The first short film I ever did, an exercise in skeptic art

Posted by bryanzug - 2009/08/23

Unusual realities
That drove me straight down to my knees
Never thought I’d see things like these
If I had a dream
 
If I Had a Dream by Undercover
(from the album Branded, 1986)

Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s in Southern California (yes Seattle-ites, I am a Cali refugee, thank you for not closing your borders) – I worked with a non-profit music production agency that fostered the exploration of meaning through the creation of music.

Back then I would not have described it like that – we thought we were just making what we called, in naive retrospect, “Christian Rock”.

But much of who I am today – my love for complex stories and conflicted characters, stems from deep things people in that community taught me about life, art, relationships, and critical thinking.

One of the pivotal bands I got to interact with at that time was Undercover and one of their leaders, Ojo Taylor.

Undercover’s Branded album was, for me, one of the first pieces of spiritual art that wrestled honestly with faith, doubt, and skepticism.

Those of you who know me know that while I land on the Jesus side of things regarding The Question of God, I come to that conclusion after much wrestling of angels.

Like Jacob, my gait is informed by the limp of, and deep respect for, the skeptic’s heart.

(Which is one of the many reasons my son is name Thomas.)

In the spring of 1991, I took footage from a summer 1990 Undercover concert I video-ed in Redlands, California, back to the Media Center at Pepperdine and made my first short film – A video of the song “Time” from their album Balance of Power.

I had abandoned the television and radio production major that I went to Pepperdine to originally study, believing that I could learn things faster than the instructors could teach me by just doing projects and facing real world challneges, while making things I wanted to make.

I spliced in a bunch of public domain footage I took from some cool laserdiscs the university had, in order to draw the themes of the song out.

Last week, Ojo from Undercover found me on facebook. Then, this AM, my friend Jason pointed me to the video I made nearly 20 years ago.

Just looked at it for the first time in a long time and I am really struck by how much it is reminding me of things I had forgotten of my own journey.

It’s funny sometimes how much we don’t remember about ourselves.

Anyway, I thought I’d post it so you could take a look if you have a moment and get a glimpse of how I ended up being, ummm, me ;)

Time by Undercover, 1990



I’m joining Lilipip as Director of Business Development

Posted by bryanzug - 2009/08/03

Most of the web sites I’ve worked on over the last 13 years face a small set of common challenges –

  1. How do you get the attention of an audience already fatigued with information overload?
  2. If you do manage to grab attention, how do you compellingly connect people with your product, service, or concept?
  3. Finally, how do you keep it simple enough to not lose folks along the way – all while avoiding the pitfalls of boring and forgettable?

If you’ve been in a strategic web session with me anytime in the last 24 months, you’re probably sick of what I’m about to say.

But I’m gonna say it anyway.

Short, well-written, visually-memorable web videos are a stunningly smart thing to do on most web sites – they’re an effective way to deal with every one of the strategic communication killers I’ve listed above.

A bit about how I became convinced of this (and where it’s leading me).

Through my work producing Ignite Seattle video and capturing events like BarCamp, MindCamp, Presentation Camp, and Jackson Fish Market’s Small and Special conference, I’ve seen, time and again, how web video is much more than “TV on the internet”.

When done well, it enables people to teach things to other people – to spread knowledge and understanding where it needs to go – in ways that those of us who originate content rarely imagine as we create it.

Seeing friends like Lee and Sachi LeFever at Common Craft demonstrate how thoughtful visual explanations really can help people worlwide has been eye opening.

Beyond being all manner of cool, their “In Plain English” series has inspired me to examine how I can not only become a better “shedder of light” in my daily life – it’s also inspired me to consider how I can help other people do the same.

Which leads me to the title announcement of this post – as of today, I am joining Lilipip Studios as Director of Business Development.

For those of you unfamiliar with Lilipip and its founder, Ksenia Oustiougova, they are a Seattle startup that specializes in creating animated web videos about your product, service, or concept.

The best way to explain what we do is to show you – so I’ve pasted a video Lilipip did for Zappos above. Take a look at it to get an idea of the kinds of things I’ll be helping folks develop.

Also noteworthy is that Lilipip works with independent writers, illustrators, animators, voice-over artists, and musicians worldwide to produce this work.

As Ksenia and I became friends, it was clear that we share the same belief in the power of these sorts of videos. We also share a deep appreciation of small, special, sustainable approaches to business.

When Lilipip began to take off and it was obvious they needed to grow the team, my wife Jen and I began to seriously discuss re-configuring our lives to join a startup.

After much reflection, we decided to take a leap of faith and do it.

So, watch that Zappos video – And ping me if you know of anyone who could use one of these. We’ve got a great team and a proven process – with transparent pricing!

P.S. I’m not saying there’s a direct correlation between Amazon’s recent purchase of Zappos and the Lilipip video, because causal inference is hard – but casual inference, on the other hand, is quite easy.



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