This past week I had the privilege of traveling with Stephen Tobolowsky to the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Boston and to The Bell House in Brooklyn, where Stephen shared his stories and his insights with hundreds of fans. There’s something magical about live storytelling that binds us together in the words and performance of another human being. It’s an unforgettable experience and I hope each of you get to experience it at some point.
Below you’ll find a photo journal of our travels. New York was so lovely and exciting that I’m reminded of how sad I am that I don’t live there. Huge thanks to the fine folks at the Coolidge, The Bell House, the Independent Film Festival of Boston, Bumpershine, and Creaghead & Company for making these performances possible!
Merlin Mann wrote this piece on new year’s resolutions (via Marco) almost a year ago but it’s still advice that I hold dear. Essentially, Mann argues against making huge, sweeping resolutions, in favor of smaller, more systematic decisions that are reasonable and achievable. The latter is a more mature way to go that will probably end up leading to more change:
Don’t set yourself up for failure by demanding things that you’ve never come close to achieving before. I realize this is antithetical to most self-improvement bullshit, but that’s exactly the point. If you were already a viking, you wouldn’t need to build a big boat. Start with where you are right now. Not with where you wish you’d been.
I have the will and the time to start a workout regimen but I’ve recently been beset by some pretty significant injuries that prevent this. Therefore, one of my new year’s resolution is to walk 5 miles, 4 days per week. It’s simultaneously small but ambitious. I’ll be using the Runkeeper app on my iPhone to monitor my routine and you can keep up with me here. Here’s hoping that 2012 will be a more healthy year than the last one.
I’d like to make this official: as of this moment, my new photography website, Dave Chen’s Photos, is online!
It’s been a long journey to get to this point. I’ve spent the past year amassing thousands upon thousands of photographs from a wide variety of events and situations. I’ve studied with master photographer Jerry Ghionis and read up on the techniques of flash photographer David Hobby. My hope is that the new site will reflect the breadth and quality of my work through an elegant, simple, classy design.
Shortly, I’ll be writing a blog post about the two photo website services I’ve tried this year: 4ormat and Bigfolio (which hosts the current version of the site). I know many of us dislike flash but there are reasons why I chose to use a service that only hosts flash websites. I will get into those later, but iPad and iPhone users are not left out, as there’s a fully functional mobile version of the site as well.
In the meantime, check out the new site! Put it through its paces. And ask yourself: would you hire this photographer if he was local? Why or why not? Your answers and feedback are welcome in the comments below.
Last week, Stephen Tobolowsky and I took to the stage of the Brattle Theatre for our first-ever staging of The Tobolowsky Files Live. By most measures, the shows were a success: hundreds of people showed up, most of whom appeared to enjoy themselves (based on the comments I got afterwards and the general “mood” of the room. See also this lovely review from Pajiba). More importantly, Stephen and I got to play around with how we are going to do this thing in Seattle in January, when our audience is estimated to be around 700 people. Subsequent shows are currently being discussed for New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and maybe even Boston again in a few months.
The Brattle Theatre was an excellent host for us. Not only did they take a chance on what, at this point, is somewhat of an “unproven property,” they also made a whole weekend out of it, honoring Stephen by playing many of his movies in the theater, and by making him the guest of honor at the annual Brattle Gala. Here’s a video of them presenting a gift to Stephen at that gala:
As for my own personal experience, it was, by any measure, a thrill. Many people from the audience had never heard Stephen live, so it was great to be spreading the “Tobolowsky gospel.” Moreover, I met tons of amazing fans, both of the /Filmcast and of the Tobolowsky Files. One couple had driven four hours just to see the show that night. It was humbling and inspiring to see. And it was heartening to know that I had helped to create something that brought people together in a way that I hope was powerful.
Beyond that, there is something magical about the art of live storytelling — the idea that by uttering a few words, a person can change the entire mood of a room, can make you re-think your life, can move you and make you angry, sad, or joyful. Stephen Tobolowsky has this gift. To see him deploy it in an intimate theater with people whose hearts were open is an experience I shall never forget.
A few other snippets of media:
Here’s a video I recorded of Stephen and I chatting before the very first show. I was pretty nervous. Stephen may have been too, but he remained a consummate professional:
I was able to place my iPhone in my front breast pocket before I walked out on stage the second night. The video is almost incomprehensible, as the camera is at an extremely weird angle, but I still think this gives you a sense of what the mood was like for the packed audience that night.
Lastly, here’s a photograph I took of Stephen and Ann on their last day. Her support and encouragement helped to make last weekend possible.
It’s been a bit quiet here this past week. That’s because I’ve been busy putting together the following:
The Tobolowsky Files will have three LIVE performances in Boston during November (11th, 12th, and 13th)! Then, in January, we’ll be heading to Seattle for a performance at the historic Neptune Theater. It will be epic! Buy your tickets now!
I am beyond excited about this. There is nothing quite like seeing Stephen perform his stories live; I’ve seen it happen and the results are moving, powerful, even transformative.
More importantly, I can’t escape the thought: this is how it begins. With a few, jam-packed shows at a cozy, intimate venue. If these go well, not only will it do much to spread the word of Stephen and of the show, but it will also demonstrate that we have a viable business model on our hands. Perhaps even viable enough for me to seriously consider a career change…
– From state to state, how big is the podcast’s reach? And how many of our listeners in each state are big enough fans that they are willing to spend money to see Stephen live?
– Given a situation where most people are not aware of the podcast, is Stephen’s existing popularity as an actor sufficient enough such that people will come see his show even with no knowledge whatsoever of his storytelling abilities?
– Suppose people don’t know about the podcast NOR do they know any of Stephen’s work. What are ways to entice them to come?
Occasionally in my online travels, I’ve had the privilege to encounter super nice people who are willing to help me out, just out of the kind goodness of their hearts. Scott has certainly been one of those people, guiding me through some very uncertain processes and doing so with lots of patience, generosity, and graciousness. Thanks, Scott. Any success in my future endeavors in these fields will be partially due to you.
Launched by Amazon just a month or two ago, Kindle Singles offers “compelling ideas, expressed at their natural length.” It’s a new, curated program that emphasizes long-form reading, with works lengthier than a magazine article but shorter than a full-on e-book (and priced accordingly). As a huge fan of services like Instapaper, I’ve grown to love the long-form reading I can do with my Kindle, and I’ve found that Kindle Singles are an awesome way to consume these bite-sized nuggets of high-quality writing.
The easiest way to get the new story is just to head on over to Amazon and buy it right now. It’ll be automatically delivered to your Kindle, wirelessly. But what if you don’t have a Kindle? No problem. Amazon has released Kindle apps for every conceivable OS, including iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android, or even for your Mac or PC. Basically, if you’re reading this blog post right now, you can also buy and read Stephen’s new story (which, by the way, has a super cool cover created by artist Mark Crilley).
Working on the Tobolowsky Files has been a joy, but it’s also been an intensive process that has consumed hundreds of hours of my life over the past year. During that time, we’ve put out about 30-40 hours worth of content and done so completely for free. Buying this Kindle Single not only gives you a great new piece of content from Stephen, which you won’t be able to find the podcast (I’ve read the story and, as usual, it’s hilarious and profound), it also helps support all the work that Stephen and I do together. If enough people chip in the $1.99 it takes to buy this Kindle Single, it will ensure we can keep hearing Stephen’s stories continue for many months to come, both in podcast form and in Kindle form.