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New music video ‘Skinn’

August 6, 2011

Over 3,000 photos were taken over two days to create this music video. The music video has recently been featured on Promo News and has also been nominated for an IF Award. If you like the music video, please take two minutes to vote here: Vote for ‘Skinn’.

 

Director: Johnny Blank
Production Company: Little Peeperz Productions
Producer: Sonny King
PM: Jacqueline Bender
DP: Warwick Field
Prod. Designer: Tammy Knox
Cam Asst: Anthony Koreny
Gaffer Asst: Johnny Flynn
Gaffer: Michael Hughes
PA: Filip Petrovic
Make-up: Vivienne Kitchell
Editor: Peter Garnish
Cast: Lucy, Sonny King, Marcus Laging, Deanna Inkson, Albert Goikhman, Karen Arecia Powell, Gillian Pinder, Peter Muehlenberg, Leonie Huber, Max Davine, Danielle Matthews
Lucy’s Crown official website

Johnny Blank Showreel

August 24, 2010

New music video released!

August 20, 2010

It was a long, yet fun project: the new clip, ‘Hit The Bottom’ is finally completed. Song by Lucy’s Crown. The clip is best viewed in fullscreen. You can watch the clip here: http://hitthebottomnow.com

You can also view hundreds more stills, watch the trailer, and join the fan page here: http://facebook.com/hitthebottom





Time for the Digital Revolution: Engaged Media.

July 6, 2010

I am a terribly infrequent blogger who is mainly writing this because I’ve got days of rendering ahead of me waiting for my video’s to be converted for new website!

So a good excuse to write about the current media landscape. These are just some general observations from my recent experience.

1. No-one in digital media has any clue what they are doing (but some are making some great guesses). We are like a bunch of kids in diapers learning to walk.

2. No-one in TV has any clue what they are doing (the empire is crumbling and they don’t know how to stay afloat). There is however, a wealth of production knowledge to draw upon.

3. TV and digital peeps are in an uneasy dance looking for the dollar and at this stage no-one quite has the funky moves to make that dance the next ‘Thriller’.

4. I wonder when there will be MIPDigital? I attended MIPTV for the first time this year, and while a great event, it failed to bridge the divide between digital and TV. There was little discussion of how to take the great ideas and lessons that are being learnt in the digital realm and applying them to TV or vice versa. Once people get over the idea that TV is somehow sacrosanct and accept the fact it is just another screen, then we may enter a happy place where young mediamakers with exciting ideas and powerbrokers can meet and make real deals that connect with how audiences are consuming media today.

5. All media should now be truly transmedia – I’m tired of TV shows that then add an ad-hoc online component, or on the other side cheaply produced online episodic content, that lacks the production values and care needed to be truly effective. It is time that the old land of TV, with its depth of experience in production joins forces with the digital arena, with companies and people that understand and are part of the new digital landscape and start producing truly transmedia experiences. Actually scrap that. I hate the word transmedia. Let’s call it an engaged media experience. People want to connect. People want to find. People want to explore. Give them content that is professionally produced and written, that doesn’t require them to consume it at a specific hour, and that is delivered across multiple channels of discovery and you have the formula for an engaged audience. (Yes, non-professionally produced content sometimes gets fantastic audiences too, but that’s outside the scope of this limited discussion. Another blog perhaps…)

6. Digital has allowed for the first time in history for people to (relatively easily) showcase their talent to the world. It should thus be easier for those with money and or power (still currently TV networks) to provide a conduit for developing this talent. If the bottomline is money (which unfortunately for every business and most people it is) then it is imperative that TV, brands and investors start embracing the relatively low cost of digital to incubate talent and develop audiences. For in the end it is only an engaged audience that will spend a dollar. Most of us simply click away or don’t tune in.

7. I’m calling for the Digital Revolution: let’s embrace the lessons from the past, build upon the great foundations of TV and now take storytelling to the next level of connection. We need to allow audiences to find stories wherever they are, whenever they want to. It is up to us as mediamakers, to find ways to reach these audiences and stop being confined to traditional ways of thinking. We are not living in a traditional time, we are living in the digital revolution. Embrace it, or be tuned out. The choice is yours.

iSnack2.0? I say call it iSpreadIt2.0 – the viral spread. #vegefail

September 29, 2009

If I hear the word ‘viral’ again I may have to consciously go and contract a virus so that I may curl up and die. Ok, perhaps I’m being slightly melodramatic….

Everyone I speak to wants their video to ‘go viral’. Back in my day, you’d ask the cute girl’s best friend if she wanted to ‘go steady’ with you. Now the kid in the playground SMS’s their friend a message saying how much they like the cute girl. The kid knows full well that the ‘friend’ can’t keep a secret and has a ‘quick finger’ (aka a postmodern big mouth). The apparent friend then forwards the message to their friend and so on. Before you know it the kid is now ‘going viral’ with the cute girl. They never meet behind the school playground for a pash – how eek! They might contract a virus! Instead they link up on facebook and announce that they are now in a relationship with each other – and all without even saying a word to each other.

How the hell does the above anecdote relate to Kraft and their naming of the new Vegemite as iSnack2.0 you may well ask? Well, it doesn’t entirely……

(A quick note to those non-Australians reading this: Vegemite is the black tar spread that Aussies love to lather on their toast for breakfast. Most non-Australians tend to want to throw up or have other similar reactions to its taste. But for generation after generation, it has been a staple, so much so that everyone in Australia knows it happy little jingle, ‘We’re happy little Vegemites, as bright as bright can be, we all enjoy our Vegemite for breakfast, lunch and tea’)

So Kraft ran a competition to decide on the name of their new spread that basically combines Vegemite and cheese in the same jar. (Brilliant – why has anyone thought of this earlier? Nothing like a bit of processed cheese mixed in with Vegemite. I’m already drooling.) Out of some 40,000 entries they chose the new name iSnack2.0.

Within hours Twitter and the usual social media suspects were inundated with disgusted responses to the name. Some commentators claimed it was a conscious decision to get free publicity. Either way, I hate it too – the whole iPod name ripoff has gone waaay too far. It’s not even like the product is a snack – it’s a spread. That’s why I’m calling for it to be renamed iSpreadIt2.0 – it’s a spread, and it’s gone viral. Or more simply:

iSpreadIt2.0 – the world’s first viral spread.

In digital media, it’s always got to be ‘the world’s first’.

Which actually leads me to finally make a point – the apparent ‘viral’ phenomenon is nothing more than the overuse of a word. If you truly want something to go viral, follow a couple of simple rules:

1. Make great content.
2. Make content that people will react to – either in a positive or negative way. The key factor is to provoke a reaction. People share information when it provokes a strong emotional response in them.
3. Stop trying to make something viral. Make something great and then use the broad range of new tools such as social media and online video networks to spread your content.
4. Forget one-off gimmick videos: If you really want to create a message that will stay in people’s minds for longer than the one second it takes to click away from your content – start thinking about engaging episodic content.
5. Don’t limit yourself to one platform or type of medium – blogs, video, websites are all packages of information – try combining them to tell your message. Investigate other ideas such as ARG’s, games, microsites, augmented reality or a combination of all of them etc.
6. Don’t forget about the real world – the best way to make a long lasting message is to make content that reflects and engages people in the real world.

And who knows, you may well be the world’s next great online viral, sounds charming doesn’t it? And if all else fails, at least you’ll have made something you’re proud of.

Interview (including live performance) with the extremely talented folk singer, Chloe Hall.

July 6, 2009

In this interview I talk to independent folk singer, Chloe Hall about storytelling, folk music and the struggles faced by independent musicians. I’ve have been working with Chloe Hall recently to produce a weekly online show that follows the Chloe Hall Trio as they tour Canada and Europe. The main aim of the show is to encourage people to start supporting independent artists, who with little support from funding bodies or major labels, are trying to make a go of it. It’s time people like you, me and everyone else out there actually do something to keep original storytelling and music alive. So take the time to read this interview and watch Chloe perform live and if you like what you see, I strongly recommend you to go to www.chloehall.com.au, show your support for The Chloe Hall Trio by registering that you’ve listened to their music and help keep their dream alive.

* What’s your story? (in 140 char. or less)

I’m an alternative folk singer-songwriter from Melbourne. I love making and sharing music, and I’m trying to work out a way to build a sustainable career.

* How did you start out?

I’ve written songs as long as I can remember.
After high-school, I studied composition at the Con in Melbourne, where I realized I was not only a terrible opera singer, but I actually didn’t like 20th century music that much. I dropped out after 2 years and hit the folk festival circuit (with my first demo – on cassette)…

* Can you remember the first song/story you ever wrote?

Uh huh.
There might have been others, but the first song I remember was when I was about 3, looking out of the back seat of the car watching the moon through the passing overhead wires. “When the moon was shining brightly and the stars were in the sky”. Genius.

* Tell us a bit about your new tour, ‘the 10,000 mission’ and the your online show, ‘Show on the Road’. What you are trying to achieve?

During this tour, we’re running 2 online campaigns.
“Chloe Hall is on a Mission” is about getting 10,000 people to hear the new album before the end of the tour (3½ months). They don’t have to buy it (although they can!), they can just go to the website, stream it, and register that they’ve heard it.
The way I see it, there are lots of people out there who will love the music, and particularly the new album – and it’s my job to find them.
I’m genuinely proud of this album, and I want to get it in front of as many people as possible – to give it the best chance that I can.

“Show on the Road” is a weekly web-based documentary of life on the road. It’s filmed by me and my trio on the road, the raw footage is uploaded… and the superstars at Agent Blank edit it and upload it each week.
It’s a fresh and exciting way of staying in touch with fans and giving a fly-on-the-wall experience of what life is like on the road.


* What makes a good story?

For me, people make good stories. If there’s real emotion there, you can bet it was triggered by a decent story. If it’s boiled down, I think a good story is an access point into a shared, simple emotion. An offering, from the teller to the listener.

* What’s your favourite story? (can be a film, book, myth etc)

I don’t have a tidy answer for this one. I’m probably most involved with the story I’ve most recently heard (and I’m always on the lookout for a good story!). I’m typing this from an alternative community in BC, Canada, where a group of American college friends bought land 35 years ago. They built the most extraordinary houses, reared chickens, pigs and cattle. Grew gardens and crops. Through summers and snowy, 40-degrees-below-winters. They led both independent and communal lives. Held legendary parties. Somehow, they’re still here – stronger than ever. All still friends. Continuing to build, play and work together. It’s inspiring. So, right now, it’s my favourite story.

* How do you think technology is changing the way we tell stories?

This is probably not a popular answer, but I think technology is changing the methods and appearance of the way we tell stories. But the stories themselves aren’t that different. Storytelling has been the same (in different forms) since we first began communicating our shared experiences.
Whether we sing a song passed down orally through generations, write a story on paper, type a blog or stream a live art-piece live on the web, we’re still connecting with people through common experience.
I think technology is opening up channels for broader communication though – allowing us to reach more people, more easily.

* Let’s talk about the difference between recording an album and performing live, how do you think the two processes change the way you tell your story?

I love them both, but recording and performing are very different.
For me, performing live is about a particular moment, with a particular group of people. We’re all a part of it. It only occurs once, and it’s a unique experience. It’s alive.
Recording is more like visual art. There’s so much preparation and refinement. It’s an exciting process – an intense exploration of the ideas and sounds, and often an amazing experience for the musicians and technicians involved. Once it’s finished, like a novel or a painting, it becomes a one-way communication with the listener/reader/viewer. It’s complete. It doesn’t change. It’s a moment captured.

* How will ‘Show on the Road’ be distributed?

Each week, Show on the Road is being uploaded to my website, youtube and other web video channels.

* What are the major hurdles to making a career from being a musician and trying to tell your stories?

The two big ones are self-belief and money.
There is an incredible amount of rejection in a musical career, so you need to have a strong belief in what you’re doing, have a thick skin, and have confidence and faith in the fact that there ARE people who will love what you’re doing, and be excited to be involved. So much of making a lasting career in music is finding a supportive community of like-minded people. On both sides of the stage/stereo.
And money? I think that’s self explanatory. Hard, hard work!

Tell us particularly about how/why folk music seems to be more about storytelling than other styles of music?

Folk music is, funnily enough, about ‘folk’. It’s by people, for people. It’s not driven by an industry, but it has a long, proud history of telling people’s stories. Remembering, sharing, sometimes protesting and resisting through music. It’s about communities and the strength of people working together. It’s real stories about real people and genuine emotions. It’s not just pop music played on acoustic instruments. It’s not always cool, but it’s timeless, classic and rich (but, you know, I might be a little bit biased!).

* Is the tour/show self funded?

I didn’t intend for this tour to be self funded (I made what I thought were 3 very strong applications for government and industry funding), but it’s ended up being a completely self-funded project. It’s wiping me out, actually. I’ll come back from this tour in debt, with no real idea of how to get out of the financial hole that I’m putting myself in. But I’m too far down the track to stop now! And you never know, if we just keep going around that next bend…

* Greatest fear in life?

Yeah right, that’s an easy question…

* What is your idea of freedom?

Setting off in the morning on a push bike. That first pedal down, where you feel the momentum of the bike take over and the wind against your face. I never tire of that feeling.

* Your greatest ambition?

This might sound a bit clichéd, but ultimately I want to be a happy, healthy, loving, loved, confident woman with a fantastic community of friends and musicians, making my living through music and songwriting. Living a rich and colourful life full of good company, good food, good music and adventure. True.

* Your tips for spreading the word and getting online support for your projects?

I’m just learning about this. At this point, I’m in other people’s hands. Definitely using social networking sites (although I could do this a lot better I think)… It’s all quite new for me at the moment, but I’m hoping we develop some good strategies along the way.


* Can you tell me the favourite song you’ve ever written and why you like it so much?

This changes all the time. At the moment it’s Shipwreck (listen to it here). It just feels so good to sing live – especially when the harmonies kick in!
It’s about being single… ‘Are you the rose or the thorn? Are you the teacup or the storm? Are you the one worth waiting for? Are you the shipwreck or the shore?…’ and I love seeing the single people in the audience (men and women) light up in recognition. It’s light, but there are seeds of truth in there… Ultimately though, it’s a very uplifting song.

* Why are you drawn to storytelling?

For the way it breaks through and makes us feel. For the way it connects people. For the way it makes us think, and question, and laugh and look around. I love hearing stories and songs just as much as I enjoy writing and sharing them. It feels important to me. Part of our own strange human story.

* If you had to live by a motto, what would it be?
I really don’t know, but I asked my (very helpful) band mates:
Teal said “Carpe PM”
Chris said “Look both ways before you cross the street”
Our host, Bob, said “Do what you like, like what you do”.

So you can see how easy that one is to answer!

– I thank Chloe for taking the time out of her extremely busy tour schedule to answer my questions. If you’ve read this far, then I encourage you once more to show your support for independent music and take a couple of minutes to check out http://www.chloehall.com.au.

Truth, the fox & a little twitter.

June 30, 2009

A number of interesting facts came to my attention this week which I feel compelled to bring to your attention.

The first fact that left me absolutely gobmacked, yet somehow reassured was that Fox successfully argued that they could use the first amendment to essentially lie when telling the news.

Why did this reassure me? It reassured me that the old media guard is under siege and surely can’t survive much longer in the face of the power of tools such as Twitter. When real time news can be spread directly from the source to the masses, there is hope that news will become less about ‘spin’ and more directly accountable. Let’s also hope that people will no longer tolerate the ‘pop’ and/or fear propaganda masquerading as news being thrown at them daily on the television or through tabloids.

My hopes in this department are encouraged by a recent interview by TED in which they interviewed Clay Shirky regarding the situation in Iran and how Twitter has been used to encourage collective action. You can read the full interview here. Essentially Clay talks about the fact that Twitter actually encourages empathy because we feel faster than we think. It’s definitely an interesting point, and the worldwide impact of the Iranian people’s use of Twitter has been extraordinary. They have not only brought their plight to the worldwide stage, they have also encouraged collective action on the issues at stake.

In this change toward real-time news there must be a mechanism to ensure that sources are checked and crossed checked. However, it seems to me that with the power of Twitter any false sources will be quickly weeded out in less time than it takes traditional media to verify, pull together a story, and print or run the story on television. A recent example of this is the absurd announcement on Australian national television that Jeff Goldblum was dead. Within minutes of the claim, a number of tweets from friends and associates of Jeff Goldblum confirmed the actor was in fact alive and well.

I’m not advocating the death of journalism, good research or storytelling. Far from it, I think that real-time news feeds and tools such as Twitter will simply weed out average writers, presenters etc as they simply won’t be necessary.

Hopefully those journalists etc that remain will do so because they have meaningful insights or impeccable storytelling abilities. Either that or they will be famous and/or goodlooking in a plastic way. I’m hoping there will be more of the talented former and less of the plastic latter.

There are those that are scared that the move to news feeds and social media will lead to information overload and a lack of empathy. However, we need to keep in mind the fact that tools such as Twitter are just that – tools. If we also keep communicating in other meaningful ways with each other then I think we’ll just be fine. We should all heed Julia Angwin’s advice and next time we make a call or see someone face to face ask them, ‘How are you really?’

And I’m all for bringing back a sacred tradition – let’s all start to switch our phones off when we’re sitting at dinner with our friends, family or colleagues. Technology can never replace the intimacy of face to face conversation and the importance of taking the time to actually listen to other people.

Technology certainly can add another dimension to the sharing of information and conversation though.