Off to mentor at The Pixel Lab

I’m flying to the UK today to mentor at The Pixel Lab: The Cross-Media Film Workshop:

The lab is aimed at European media professionals with a strong track record in their sector, and has a particular focus on the creation, finance and distribution of cross-media properties to create sustainable European media businesses. The Pixel Lab will enable producers and other media professionals to tap into the business knowledge-base of the film, advertising, online, broadcast, gaming and mobile industries.

There are two labs, and I’ll be mentoring at both the Welsh Mini-Lab and the full Pixel Lab. I’ll be with a great bunch of mentors:

We’ll be working with an awesome bunch of practitioners who will also be mentoring each other and sharing with us!

  • Chiara Carbonara, Arcane Star Productions with My Uni Experience
  • Dave Edwards, DEEM with Project X
  • Nathan Erasmus, Gravy Media with Roze and the Robots
  • Kevin Moss, PlayThisNext with Dr0id
  • John Shackleton, Movie Mogul with Panic Button
  • Owen Stickler, Dinamo Productions with The Heavy, Heavy Monster Show
  • Tom Ware, Rondo Media with Rockford
  • Steve Williams, Dai4films with Milly’s World
  • Rob Alexander, Perfect Motion with The Bow Project (UK)
  • Jan Bednarz, Buzz Films with Turf: The Road to Paris (UK)
  • Emilie Blézat, Sciapode Films with Fleurs du Mal (FRANCE)
  • Helena Bulaja, Alt F4 – Bulaja Studios  with Mechanical Figures_Inspired by Tesla (CROATIA)
  • Peggy Desplats, Cassiopée Films with Midnights (FRANCE)
  • Benjamin Faivre, Telfrance Série with La Scénarioze – 142 euros (FRANCE)
  • Gabriel Festoc, Yunkunkun Productions with Clandestino (FRANCE)
  • Marc Guidoni, Fondivina Films with Kinopanorama (FRANCE)
  • Patric Jean, Black Moon with Miracles (BELGIUM)
  • Tom Murphy, Streamline with Quest (UK)
  • Arabella Page-Croft, Black Moon with Outpost: Black Sun (UK)
  • Justine Potter, Savvy Productions with The Cupid Concept (UK)
  • Jeremy Pouilloux, La Générale de Production with L’OEIL AMÉRICAIN (FRANCE)
  • Krishna Stott, Visit Sheerport – Bellyfeel with The Alexander Wilson Project (UK)
  • Paulina Tervo, WriteThisDown with Awra Amba – Virtual Village (FINLAND)
  • Lena Thiele, with Farewell Comrades! Interactive (GERMANY)
  • Marietta von Hausswolff von Baumgarten with Krev?! (SWEDEN)
  • Stephane Adamiak, Transmedia Project & Partnership Manager, France Telecom/Orange (FRANCE)
  • Diogo Andrade, Filmmaker (PORTUGAL)
  • Nichola Bruce, Filmmaker (UK)
  • Ian Fenton, Writer/Director Lynchpin Productions (UK)
  • Andrea Garello, Scriptwriter (ITALY)
  • Caroline Gerdolle, Writer/Development Producer (FRANCE)
  • Ilann Girard, Producer & Consultant, Arsam International (FRANCE)
  • Pati Keilwerth, Creative Producer & Consultant, Patisserie Film (GERMANY)
  • Sabine Lange, Director Multi-Media ARTE (GERMANY)
  • Dan Lawson, Head of Production, Development & Inward Investment Screen WM (UK)
  • David McKenna, Executive Producer Cross-Media & Arts, RTE (IRELAND)
  • Despina Mouzaki, Producer and Director, Thessaloniki Film Festival (GREECE)
  • Stavros Papageorghiou, Documentary Producer/Director, Tetraktys Films (CYPRUS)
  • Anna Reeves, Freelance Writer/Director (FRANCE)
  • Simon Staffans, Format Developer, Media City (FINLAND)
  • Mira Staleva, Head of Co-production Market, Sofia Film Festival (BULGARIA)
  • Petra Strban, Production Manager (SLOVENIA)

We are going to have an amazing time. You should also know that Power to the Pixel has also announced The Pixel Market


The Pixel Market incorporating The Pixel Pitch and The Pixel Meetings has now opened for applications. We are looking for international projects with stories that can span a combination of film, TV, online, mobile, interactive, publishing, live events and gaming. Applications must be made by the producer of the project and submitted through a production company. Enter now for your chance of winning the £6,000 ARTE Pixel Pitch Prize! Deadline for applications is Friday, 6 August 2010.


The End of a Chapter, My Sahara

Seven years ago I started the thesis which I am today releasing to the world. The past seven years have been hard. I have worked day and night, seven days a week for years. Spent hundreds of hours watching, clicking and reading creative projects; read tons and tons of books and research papers for lots of crazy fields throughout history; given so many presentations I’ve lost count; worked on lots of different creative (and research) projects with practitioners from new media, TV, film, gaming, print and so on. I could go on, and I know this probably sounds boring to you, but this has been my life for so long.

Some people haven’t understood me. In the beginning many in my university department didn’t understand what the heck I was talking about. You want to do a thesis of what-media? I applied to the creative writing department, and they sent me to the media department. It’s about media, right, not writing. Hmmm. Others didn’t understand why I would do a PhD when I’m keen on pursuing my creative passions? Why on Earth would anyone do a PhD if they don’t plan to work in academia? It’s like walking the Sahara before you write a book. Well, funny you should say that. I watched an interview with writer Paula Constant a few weeks ago (transcript, video). She wanted to be a writer. But before she wrote her first book she decided to walk across the Sahara. She needed to take that journey before she wrote. It was a perfect expression of who she is. A long road to a destination, but a path that is truly her own. This is where I think people who knock others, who claim that they can’t be X because they also do Y have never taken a risk themselves, have ever been courageous enough to be truly different…indeed, to be themselves.

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

One of the things Paula Constant said was that she had never completed something. I have completed things in the past, but nothing substantial. I wanted to do the PhD because I wanted to explore every aspect of a phenomenon I was passionate about. I wanted to research the past and present, I wanted to understand. I also wanted to train my mind to stay on one thing. Ha! At least I’ve learned to complete multiple things. But the training of the mind was important. I wanted to learn how to form an argument, to have knowledge that can be communicated in a sophisticated manner. I was very surprised by what I discovered.

I entered academia being bewildered by big words. It frustrated me and so I understand when others are frustrated too. Why can’t they just say the same thing in accessible language? I’ll tell you why. Experts delve deep. Discussions in academia last for decades, centuries. It is amazing, you don’t just turn up and say this is what I think! You enter a rushing river in which people throughout time have been pondering the same thing. Over that time the discussions get more and more specific. Generalisations don’t work, and terms have years of significance behind them. This isn’t just in academia. Any area of specialisation leads to jargon. So, big words aren’t about being a wanker (though a small population are like that), they are about communicating a specific point.

I also learned a lot about seeing something you create through to the end. I mean, this thesis has been in my life for years. I had to learn to keep going no matter what, to force myself to work. I’ve learned the easiest and most fun stage is definitely the wide exploration stage at the beginning. I’ve learned writing is research too. You discover things while you write. I learned that the hardest and darkest part of a major project is the final leg. This was for me in part due a significant death.

In the last four years, all of my significant female elders have died: my maternal and paternal grandmothers, and most recently mother. I know most people don’t have good relationships with their parents, and I know many are not brought up in loving environments, but I did and I was. My mother was an extraordinary woman and my only parent growing up. My life is less without her.

In fact, while writing the thesis was the hardest thing I have done, the worst part was finishing it. It broke my heart to finish it because it meant the end of a chapter of my life that included my mum. Just putting it online makes the end of this chapter undeniable. She isn’t here to be a part of it. It is the last leaf on the autumn tree. I remember when I was cleaning her blood out of the carpet (she hit the floor when she collapsed). I relished it because I could smell her, she still had a life-force of some kind, she was present. The heart-wrenching part was not cleaning her blood, but removing the last bit. Until there was no stain, nothing. Gone. Releasing the PhD is that last moment for me all over again. As long as my PhD is not released, I’m still in that world where I was struggling to finish it and she was there with me.

But she was there at my undergraduate ceremony, with my Granny too (see pic). And a couple of months before she died, she sent me a graduation gown for PhD ceremony. She was magically clever like that. Yes, now I have to leave that chapter of my life behind. She’ll be with me in other ways.

I am actually lucky to have a gift to give to the world as part of this crossing-over. It isn’t the thesis I thought I would write, it isn’t the thesis I wanted to write, but it is what I decided to give at this point in time. It lovingly embraces the complex breadth of the area, and so most of you with it. It is in many ways a mirror of you all, the beauty I see in you.

In the name of all who have created their own path, walked their own Sahara, and had the courage to follow their own star, I give you what is hopefully my first substantial gift to the world: my PhD.