How many filmmakers cringe at the thought of getting in front of their own cameras?
What about setting up your own camera (read, ahem: iphone), conducting an interview with yourself, editing yourself and surfing your own BRoll to create mini episodes….daily? Then market the hell out of it all? Does that sound like a dreadful undertaking or (gasp) a lot like selling out? It’s neither, if you look at it like you’re improving your desire to make more, and make it better.
I have been doing this daily since February 2017 (well, not daily, but pretty damn close) and if you were to fast forward from my first post to today, the improvement in content, efficiency in recording, quick-turnaround editing and use of forecasted BRoll for story is pretty astonishing.
All of this has transformed into a real show, which is called So-Called Mom: an idea born from a brunch with Executive Producer Sally DeSipio at our house with our family of nine.
Yep, you read that right. There are NINE members in our immediate family: My husband Pippin, Me, and our blended family of seven kids ages 17 – 5.
During our chaotic and fun-loving brunch, Sally learned that we’ve been obsessively recording our kids since Pippin and I merged our families in 2006. A handful of meetings later, and under her direction, I started writing a blog to feature our family story on video and to begin giving a voice to exactly what our family was–everything but conventional. From our massive library of family footage, a pitch was created that goes like this:
I’m proud to say that Pippin and I acted as assistant editors to this trailer. There were many people involved on this one and it was so much fun to respond to: Do you have any footage of someone falling, a birthday cake being made, crying, etc? We were literally like, do you want the birthday cake to be chocolate or vanilla? From Jake’s 14th or MJ’s 11th? It was pretty specific at times, but really fun to reveal exactly how much we had to work with.
Ever since, I have been writing a blog to keep the story going, but most importantly, recording a vlog and slowly but surely gaining an increased understanding of how episodes work. It’s incredibly hard to do with a studio of two, three or even four people. If you think of the level of work that goes into creating a show, let alone the outreach and marketing, I say we’re doing pretty awesome with what we have to work with.
Working on So Called Mom has led to a number of opportunities. Besides getting pitched and put out there for some big wigs to consider, I have figured out the value of getting in front of the camera–not something many filmmakers like to do.
It’s about building engagement, an audience, and a brand.
It’s about being authentic and also letting go of what people think about you. I usually am the first to admit on the blog that I’m an imperfect parent plagued by perpetual (self-imposed) chaos. I have all sorts of rudeness thrown my way, but this project is about something much bigger than worrying about what someone might think about my content, my family or my parenting style. This is about documenting for life. In life and especially with parenting, you are designing, building and flying the plane all at once. And in our case, we’re doing it with an audience. To me, there is nothing better than that.
My accomplishments so far have been making other parents laugh and realize that it’s not about being perfect, but about being real and contributing to a more forgiving parenting landscape. That motherhood is really about letting life come unhinged, as it does, and not to try too hard to keep it all in place. Other accomplishments? Gaining an audience from people who don’t have kids. Which tells me we’re doing something right with story, too–beyond the mom blogger niche.
While getting in front of your own gear and pressing record might seem terrifying (and it is), that fear does die down, revealing transformative you. It’s not narcissistic, at all. To me, playing a part in my own work is smart, shows character and creates a magnetism (and confidence) for more creative work that I might otherwise not have a full understanding of.
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