Tag Archives: Reading

Business Plans Without Pitfalls

Between yesterday and today, you could accurately deduce I have business plans on my mind.

Today, I wanted to share another article I found on Entrepreneur. This one goes over six business plan mistakes to avoid. Many of them are ones fellow filmmakers and I have discussed (especially about #4 and money) and, hey, it may be useful to you.

The Different Audiences of a Business Plan

The folks over at Entrepreneur created an article outlining the different types of audiences you may have for your business plan.

I love this, because so many people like to harp on “your business plan” as if it’s this One Holy Thing your business needs — without defining it beyond the black box of the buzzword term “business plan.” (See also vision statement, mission statement, term du jour that boils down to knowing what you’re trying to do and how you do it.).

“Know your audience” is a common refrain for many creatives, so I suppose it makes sense knowing who’s looking over your business plan and why is obvious. But it’s a nice summary and, for me at least, a reminder that no one business plan would necessarily meet the needs of all the different audiences.

Plato, Plumbers, and Lifelong Learning

My brothers and I definitely benefited from parents who instilled an enjoyment of learning in us. We like finding out more about something for its own sake, delving deeper, and, yes, we all still get a little sad thinking about what happened to the Library of Alexandria some centuries ago.

Now we’re trying to figure out what our parents did specifically, because we have kids of our own. Kids who need to read, write, or work on ‘rithmetic.

And in the Internet-age of easily compartmentalized information, that seems all the more important, both for our kids and people in general. What are we doing as a society to encourage more curious citizens (we seem to know how to encourage consumers pretty well).

All of these are things that came to mind while reading Scott Samuelson’s piece in The Atlantic. The question he asks at the end is well worth considering.

Recommended Reading: Artistry & Entrepreneurship

A certain cavegirl reminded me of a long article in The Atlantic by William Deresiewicz charting the evolution of “the artist.”

I first read it a couple years ago, but it remains quite relevant in 2017 — perhaps more so. It delves into what it means to be “a creative” in the world today and even touches on the commodification of “being creative.”

Commodification isn’t the only concept in the article that triggered memories of my anthropology studies. There’s also the whole aspect of how institutions have grown and changed in respect to supporting artists — or, perhaps it would be better characterized as how institutions and their support have both shrunken in respect to artists. They’re hardly the only group in our modern economy where that’s the case — though that is one of the reasons reading the article was so relevant. How does one make a living as an artist? What’s the new paradigm?

The safe, if selective, employment of artists and artisans by institutions (such as it was) is now all too clearly being replaced by entrepreneurship (again, not something unique to creatives and something people have noted for some time). So unless universal basic income becomes a reality (an unlikely event anytime soon), we all must become our own “brand ambassadors.” And chief cook and bottle washers.

And that’s something I’m not altogether happy with, not just because the term “brand ambassador” makes me mildly nauseous. I mean, it’s not like I’m not painfully aware that brand management is important (hello! you’re reading this on BjornMunson.com). However, the entrepreneurial vision pitched is that now we must all manage our own brands, pump our own gas, and possibly be our own tax attorneys. I’m not always happy about doing two out of three of those things — and I’m often concerned about getting it wrong… or not right enough.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy being a jack-of-all-trades. Anyone who’s spent enough time in filmmaking has learned you need to know at least a little about a lot of things. But I’ve been at this for a while. So although I’m by no means terrible at either camerawork or editing, I’d be a fool to ignore that some of my peers have done both of those tasks for a few thousand more hours than I. So just because one can do it all, maybe they shouldn’t. This is not to say you might not use a project to improve a particular skill (e.g., I’m going to edit my next project to maintain/improve my mad editing skillz). At the same time, if one wants to use a given project to improve, say, their camerawork, maybe they shouldn’t try and also improve their editing, directing, acting, and screenwriting on that same project.

So that brings us back to our networks of people. That’s the part of the equation no one writes articles about… or I’m missing them (feel free to put suggestions in the comments). Luckily, there are certainly organizations and sites where one can find networks. There’s TIVA and WIFV here in DC as well as Facebook-based groups. If there’s others, let me know.

In the meantime, I need to go clean out some bottles…

Conflict in a Cannes

Netflix, via its movie premieres at the celebrated Cannes Film Festival, has gotten a resounding, “Non!” (no) from the famously film-loving French. Well, at the very least there were boos.

Jordan Zakarin has a piece in Inverse from last Friday about how this really reflects on Hollywood more than Netflix. Essentially, Netflix is making a bet on films Hollywood no longer wants to (because they’re so enamored of franchises and tentpole films). Alissa Wilkinson has a piece in Vox from yesterday that explains the controversy in terms of competing film cultures… which also goes into how Netflix is filling a vacuum left by Hollywood.

I’ll be interested to see how this plays out, but as I noted back in February, when Netflix greenlit Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, I’m pleased to see the how they’re trying to make ducats and lots of content by letting known talents make films the studios no longer deem bankable.

New Legal Precedent in Gerrymandering

As that rare group of regular readers knows, eliminating gerrymandering and related cockamamie contrivances to prevent people from voting is near and dear to my heart.

As explained by German Lopez in Vox, the Supreme Court has recently ruled in a redistricting case in North Carolina in a way that may help combat cockamamie efforts in the future.

What’s in a Name? (Internet Age Edition)

Any name factors into one’s identity whether it’s unusual or common. Not having visited Scandinavia, I’ve only ever met one other Bjorn in person. Names are fascinating, arbitrary things. So what do you make of someone who has the same name as you?

Julie Beck, the recipient of an uncommon yet not unique name, details her quest in The Atlantic to find all the other Julie Becks in the United States. Perhaps because a name is so personal by design, we always seek to find commonalities with someone with the same name — even if there are none. In many ways, I wouldn’t know: there’s too few of us Bjorns over here.

The article also introduced me to the site HowManyofMe, which –be warned– will occupy more than a few minutes of your time as you start plugging in names of family and friends. That inevitably lead to Google searches.

Therefore, I will soon inform various family members of their doppelgangers’ exploits. I may be the only Bjorn Munson in the U.S. though. I’m sure there’s more Munsons and, more properly, Amundsens, back in the old country.

And as it happens, I like Bjorn Amundsen’s cinematography.

Aubrey de Grey and the Efforts to Engineer Away Aging

Sean Illing has an interview in Vox with biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey about his work on tackling aging.

Aubrey de Grey, whose prodigious beard is dwarfed by his prodigious research ambitions, famously believes that combating aging is an engineering problem. In other words, medical therapies can be developed and can be worked on now given our current scientific understanding of aging damage.

I remember first learning about the work of Dr. de Grey when he and others set up the Methuselah Foundation a little over a decade ago. While Methuselah still continues its work, de Grey has since co-founded another research foundation. They are actively working on what they term seven different categories of aging “damage” presumably trying to mitigate or outright reverse what we know of as aging.

It’s hard not to read about these goals and think of the countless times aging and immortality have been brought up in works of fantasy and science fiction. Once again, we seem to be living in a science fiction future already — though the possibility of living in a dystopia or even a Robert Ludlum techno-thriller also seems to be in the cards (maybe linked to an international conspiracy dating back to World War II!).

I have to confess, one of the reasons I like to check back on the work of de Grey, et al –besides the fact that I find the prospects both fascinating and frightening– is that I can’t be ignorant of what science fiction is becoming science fact in this area. I mean, if I’m writing stories about future humans, it might be good to know how soon we may reasonably become post-human. One of the conceits in Rogue Tyger is that all the humans in the Imperium are, to a certain extent, transhuman. The idea is that we humans wouldn’t be able to regularly cross the big black of space without some improvements to combat cosmic radiation, prolonged weightlessness, and so on. Not coincidentally, this means that most of the humans age normally, but live well past 100 Earth years old. A 150-year old human would be viewed how we might view an 80-90 year old today.

Of course, the modest increases in human lifespans I was thinking of are nothing compared to what the SENS Research Foundation is after. And before we even get to reversing aging damage, there’s a host of other questions about genetic engineering that might be in our very near future. Check out this interview with Michael Bess in Vox — also by Sean Illing. I don’t know about you, but it’s enough to just explain to my kids about why the sky is blue, let alone potential massive changes in how humans love.

Guess I better get to writing that fiction while it’s still charming fiction.

Tuesday Tale of Terror: Living Without a Cell Phone!

I have a long, long list of articles I save to read later… and eventually, later becomes “now.”

Alan Levinovitz has a piece in Vox from March 2016 that is sure to chill certain technophiles to the bone: going through modern life without a cell phone.

Missing a friend’s birthday party was my final impetus to get a cell phone originally. My confusion about the location would have been solved with a two minute phone call or a couple of texts. Using a cell phone to actually alert emergency responders a few years later rather cemented its utility. And now, the smartphone is for me what it is for so many people: a handy pocket computer/digital assistant/reference guide.

What I like about Levinovitz’s article is that it is not a holier-than-thou screed against mobile phones, but a use case in how someone gets by in the modern world without a smartphone… or any cell phone at all. It makes one think about how much the normalization of cell phone use is really necessary.

And if that doesn’t work, you can always research if cell phones are going to kill you.

God Still Loves, Man Still Kills

Alex Abad-Santos has a couple of interviews in Vox with the creators of God Loves, Man Kills, the seminal X-Men graphic novel that debuted 35 years ago. For many avid comic readers at the time –including myself– this was an eye-opening paradigm shift in what stories “comics” could tell.

(For ardent comic/graphic novel historians raising their hands to point out the work of Will Eisner, I was too young to read A Contract with God when it came out in ’78 and only learned about it and its follow-ups in the 90s).

While I dislike the conceit of mixing the two interviews so they could be misconstrued as one joint interview –and I hope this doesn’t become a norm– both writer Chris Claremont and artist Brent Anderson have several great insights into the work and their approach to storytelling in general.

One of my favorite quotes:

“Comics produced through avoidance of the real world are hardly satisfactory on any meaningful artistic level.” ~Brent Anderson

The whole piece is well worth a read.