09 November 2010
A Year Without Rent
This summer, I shot a feature film in the northern wilds of Maine. It was the middle of nowhere (literally...the town doesn't have a name), so the biggest single expense/obstacle was getting people there. As you might guess, there's not a whole lot of filmmakers who live in the middle of nowhere. The people with super-flexible schedules suddenly became ridiculously valuable, even more so if they could get themselves within shouting distance of location.
At the same time, there were other filmmaker friends of mine around the country working on various projects, and trying to do much of the same thing, either working with what they had in that location or trying to find the budget to bring people in. I suspect this happens quite a bit.
With the film now wrapped and the editing underway, I've started considering my next move, both professionally and personally. I've been in Maine for a couple of months and, well, it's time to move on. There's a list of places I could move, but it's a daunting one. Who's to tell what city is a better fit for me? Where do I want to spend the next year of my life? For a while now, the location field in my social media status has been blank. What do I want to put there?
Then one day, it hit me: I don't want to live anywhere. I want to live everywhere. I don't want where I work to be defined by where I live. I've tried that. It failed.
So here's my proposal: a transmedia project titled A Year Without Rent in which yours truly will spend a year living completely mobile, traveling around the country working on indie film projects. I'll explore the idea of mobility in a creative professional. Just how mobile does our digital lifestyle make us? Does it even matter where we live anymore? Can a creative professional thrive outside of NYC and LA?
The plan at the moment is to turn the year into a multimedia ebook, which would contain:
+ video: a daily video diary and/or web series documenting the day to day. In addition, more "cinematic" vignettes, which would be less frequent (obviously).
+ photos. The plan is to have a big map of the country on the webpage with photos geo-tagged. A view of where we've been, if you will.
+ words: blog posts. stories. articles. The plan is to do one a week.
Really the goal of all of this is to shine a light on the filmmakers and projects I work on along the way. It's more interesting to see who I'm talking to and helping. I want to go to Brainerd to work with Phil Holbrook, to Boise to work with Gregory Bayne, to NYC to work with Gary King, to Austin (or wherever) to work with David Lowery.
I'll use Google Latitude and foursquare and Facebook Places to be "on the map". I'll hit film festivals and stuff like DIY Days and the Annapolis Pretentious Film Society. I'll bring you with me to Philadelphia to sound mix Up Country. It'll be tons of fun.
What do we need?
+ Obviously, this project hinges on the film community getting involved in a pretty simple (and extensive) way. Are you working on a film project that could use an extra set of hands and some extra publicity? Of course you are. Email us (ayearwithoutrent [at] gmail [dot] com). Introduce yourself. What are you shooting? Where are you shooting? When? Pitch us on your project. We probably won't be able to go everywhere, based simply on logistics. But no project is too far away, provided we know far enough in advance.
+ Similarly, if you're a festival, we'll go there too. Just let us know. We want to get a full range of the indie film experience, so festivals are always helpful. Again, that email address: ayearwithoutrent [at] gmail [dot] com
+ Hospitality. Kind of a no-brainer. If you've got a spare couch I can crash on, that'd be great. Hot meals are awesome. Etc.
+ Backers. we're putting together a pretty good list of perks for backers. The big question at the moment is whether we use a site like Kickstarter or just host it ourselves. My guess is the former. Some of the rewards are one of a kind items that you won't be able to get elsewhere. And, contrary to popular opinion, it isn't about the funding. It's about the crowd. The funding is secondary.
+ Sponsors. We need to raise money to stay on the road. You may have noticed, but gas isn't cheap these days. Advertising and sponsorship is available, both on the website and the vehicle. You can also sponsor one of the daily video blogs and/or have me wear your company's tshirt. We can tweak your involvement to our location. Say you're a coffee shop in Pittsburgh. We can give you a range of dates that we'll be in the greater Pittsburgh area, and tailor a sponsorship that'll give you the best value for your money. Again, that email address: ayearwithoutrent [at] gmail [dot] com
+ Pay attention. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Are we near you? Come say hi. We have a special treat for people who find us in real life that we'll unveil in the near future.
+ Resources. We can use all sorts of travel stuff. Does someone have a GPS they aren't using anymore? A MiFi? A case of Red Bull? A Starbucks card with $3 left on it? Small travel stuff like that can add up. We have some large scale needs, as well. A larger vehicle being chief among them (for the extra room and/or reliability). It's hard to sleep in a mid-sized.
+ Music. Indie bands, put your music in our videos. Easy, fun, and FREE!
+ Media. Help us get the word out. Print. TV. Radio. Web. Whatever. Email us: ayearwithoutrent [at] gmail [dot] com
So that's the idea. What do we think?