Comment

A Customer Service Story

The phone rang on Wednesday morning and the person on the other end was in search mode for someone to help them out with a video. They had called KTVA Productions, and my friend Rick was out of town, but had given them my number.

This young woman was preparing for her father's memorial service the next day, and the funeral home was not able to present the video she and her family had done, because it was not on a DVD. The funeral home needed a DVD that day.

Fortunately the stars were aligned, as both she and I were going to be in the same part of Portland within 30 minutes. We made arrangements to meet, and she gave me her thumb drive with the video on it. I asked about the technical needs, if they would like any additional copies for family, and what they would like printed on the disk. She asked how much this would be, and I quoted her a very nominal fee. She asked if that was the price for each disk, and I said no, for everything. It brought tears to her eyes, as she was expecting yet another out of pocket expense.

I was able to create DVDs for this family. I even made a few adjustments on the video to help with the presentation. As I watched and quality-checked the final video, I was able to get a good sense of her father and their family. The images were full of love, laughter and fun family times.

Three hours later, I met her and her family in the same parking lot and gave them the discs. My heart went out to them – having been through the same loss – and they were tearfully grateful, paying me more than the fee we had discussed, and giving me a big hug.

Early on I had wrestled with what fee to charge for this, and the nominal fee turned out to ring true in my heart and in theirs. The brief connection with these people, and knowing that I had helped them out in a time of need was gratifying.

Finding meaning in my projects, for all clients, is a big part of why I produce videos. Whether it's helping promote education for our children, helping employees learn to better serve customers and communities, or helping organizations fundraise for causes which help make this world a better place – these are some of the things which make my job joyful and meaningful.

Thank you!

Comment

Comment

Some hard truth about college athletic recruiting

Just came across an amazing article by Becky Carlson who is a D-I NCAA Women's Rugby Coach at Quinnipiac University (Hamden, CT).

She writes an open letter to potential student-athletes about college athletic recruiting from a coach's perspective, and there is a tremendous amount of wisdom to be gleaned by athletes and families alike about the process. 

Coaches want to engage with the athlete, not their parents.  

While it took a bit to thumb through the long list of your impressive extracurricular activities please thank your parents for putting this packet together and understand that it would have been far more beneficial for our staff to speak to you personally by way of an old school phone call. As my staff sent correspondence to your personal email, we have received only a return from your parents apologizing and explaining that you are simply "too busy to answer".

(I know as a parent, we want the best situation for our kids.  We are used to screening opportunities for our kids, but this should be done up front, and let your athlete be themselves with the college coaches.)

The coaches hope to get to know who the athlete is, both as a player and as a person.  Coaches are people too, and hope to be treated with respect - such as having phone calls returned from the athlete (as opposed to his/her parents), and to have complete emails sent by the athlete which gives them all the information they may need.  Parents could certainly help proof/edit these emails, but they should be sent by the student.  The coaches are gauging these athletes as to how they would fit into their athletic programs, and what sort of character these possible recruits have to project how they might adapt to playing (or not playing) and being a part of a program at the college level.

As you are the team captain, I found it disappointing that you did not contribute to the post game team discussion. I watched as your mother brought over snacks and saw that you made no effort to assist her in bringing those large containers of cupcakes from the bleachers out to your 40 other teammates. Last, as the rest of the team broke the field down and put equipment away, you found a quiet spot on the empty bench to text on your phone.
Perhaps as a high school-age athlete, these are behaviors you are simply unaware of. In a world where you are being taught the X's and O's of mastering a sport, so much practice and dialogue in character building is diminishing. I realize that you have been told repeatedly by many of your previous coaches that you are amazing in your sport. However, players like you, with similar demeanor are a dime a dozen. 
Since you have been a star in your sport for quite a while with coaches and parents who have clearly allowed these details to slip through the cracks also, you are not entirely to blame. However, please bear in mind, none of this makes you a bad person only potentially, a bad teammate. The attributes I am judging you on happen to be far more important than any of your trophies, all-star selections or travel team accolades.

There is a tremendous amount of takeaway wisdom in this article, including a list of 10 characteristics about college athletes from a coach's perspective.

There is no doubt you are talented. However, from my experience, here are the 10 things I know about athletes like you.
1. Your incredible talent is the same talent that in your sophomore year of college will suddenly suffer an ego blow when a new freshman arrives with equal or greater talent. Battling your feeling of ownership over your position and feeling threatened is inevitable. 
2. Rather than working hard to better your game, you are more likely to be the athlete that is constantly comparing your success to others rather than focusing on growth for yourself. This will become a tedious and exhausting process for your coaches and team to constantly have to reassure you of your self worth and value.
3. As those around you put in the work, rather than be grateful to be surrounded by a committed group of individuals who share common goals, you are more likely to resent them and seek out allies to split the team support in half and create locker room chatter.
4. In the event you see time on the bench you may not be emotionally prepared, willing to engage or support the teammate who is starting over you. Also, it is likely you will find it challenging to support the success your team obtains when they win without you on the field.
 

 Well worth the read!

Comment

Comment

Using FaceTime for remote video production

Our Portland interview site...

Our Portland interview site...

Recently we had a need to conduct an interview with a key person for a video who was located in California, and about 50 miles from a major airport.  I contemplated flying down myself with a camera package, renting a car, and driving out to film the interview and then flying back the same day.  This was during a very busy production period juggling multiple projects - so I started looking for a videographer in the area who I could partner with.  I was happy to find Curtis Smith of Smith Cinematic who was very close to where we needed to film.  We discussed what was needed, and made arrangements with our interviewee and client.  Curtis and I tested our FaceTime system to make sure it would work ahead of time.  We used a laptop (above) as our primary gear on this end, and an iPad elevated to camera level (below, right of camera) on location.

Our production crew in California prepping for our interview… notice the iPad right of the camera.

Our production crew in California prepping for our interview… notice the iPad right of the camera.

On the scheduled day, I was able to conduct the interview via FaceTime with my clients here in Portland, while Curtis filmed the interview in California.  We were able to engage with our interviewee, ask follow-up questions, and see how he looked via the iPad.  This worked out wonderfully, ended up being more cost-effective for my client, and took less production time on the whole.  I have done phone patches in the past with voice talent for narrations and voice overs (including Waylon Jennings back in the day!) - but this was the first time we were able to use FaceTime for remote production here at Mercury Productions.  We received the video files electronically that night, and we were good to go to start editing the next day.  Being able to harness this technology to help tell stories is wonderful thing.

Rolling on the interview.

Rolling on the interview.

Comment

Comment

Creativity breakthroughs....

Sanibel Island swell - photo by Dave Decker

Sanibel Island swell - photo by Dave Decker

I recently watched a TED broadcast of Stefan Sagmeister where he talked about his approach to refreshing his creativity. Every 7 years, he takes a one-year sabbatical to explore new ideas, designs, and projects.  Many people have generated ideas and product designs during these sabbaticals (Post-it notes is one that comes to mind).  Google, IBM and progressive companies offer sabbaticals to their employees for good reason.  Stefan Sagmeister spent his last sabbatical in Bali working on a variety of projects - and I thought that sounded right up my alley (I could also learn to surf!).

The reality of this approach is that it is not realistic for me to spend a year in Bali not working!  But I started thinking that this 50Films project has really offered me some of the same opportunities as a sabbatical might (other than the obvious requirements of actively running a business!).  I have been able to explore new ideas, new editing and shooting techniques, and have the freedom to craft a project as I’d like.

While working on some of these 50Films programs, I have explored some new editing techniques and workflow procedures which will be integrated into my coming work.  I am actively loading up my next program which is already shot to start editing, and am figuring out the scheduling for my next projects.  

So rather than Bali, the rainy season is here in Portland and I continue on my working sabbatical - 50Films.  The surfing will have to wait.

Comment