“I had a dream one day… and it came true”

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear readers, first things first, I would like to use this opportunity to wish you all the happiest most fulfilling and healthy year that could be.

The (great) reason I haven’t been around for a month now, is because one of my past life caught up on me, mid-December of last year.

Here’s the story: In 2008, before Obama’s first election, I was living in Paris and getting more and more involved in video work. My spirit was uplifted when thinking about what America could be accomplishing by electing its first black president. I desperately wanted to bring my contribution to this historical moment, but had no angle to do so, being in Paris…

That’s when one of my friend’s sister contacted me, having seen some of my previous work on the net, to help her produce a 26 min documentary about the American expats living in Paris, and the electoral process from abroad.

As she studied sociology, and wanted to become journalist, she had already done all the field work, but didn’t have anyone to direct, edit, and put together her film…

To shorten the story, we filmed people from the American community in Paris, got great insight on their hopes and dreams, and their personal journey with that election, and went-on editing to bring our film to life.

Our original goal, was to get to sell it and get it broadcasted, so we had several meetings with TV producers and it turned out that our work seemed to trigger great reactions, mostly because no-one in the business had done anything original for that historical moment…

My hidden purpose for doing all this, was to find-out if I had “The right stuff” when directing and producing a documentary, so having great reviews from professionals was already a bonus however, since our program would have to meet television schedules, we already knew that because of french bureaucracy, we’d never make it on time to get broadcasted…

To me, that was the end of the story, I had got a professional view on my work, and another great experience in film-making

Boy was I wrong !

Four years later, three days before Obama’s re-election… I received a phone call from Fanta (my friend’s sister), telling me she had been contacted by the boss of a french national television, who had seen our work four years back, and that wanted to co-produce a sequel for that program, and turn it into a full 52 minutes program that he would broadcast !

Instead of showing the historical moment, and the symbolics behind the election of a black man as president, for the most powerful country in the world, we would try to go further this time, and show that in the end, Barack Obama is a president elected on his results, his humanity, not his color of skin, and that he’s led the way to seeing one day in America a first woman, a first mexican-american…

…In the White House.

That meant getting back all of our old footage, as well as re-writing, and re-filming within three days !For those of you in the business, you know how impossible it is to react on such short notice !

But we did anyway… Managed to find a crew, reactivate the contacts and went-on filming key people and places before, during, and after Obama’s re-election…

Then came the editing, the music, the post-production, coloring etc. 17 hours a day,
non-stop from Thanksgiving to last friday night !

Having to bring this project all the way, involving television professionals and a very strict deadline, was a very enriching experience that I’m sure will help me refine my production skills for my future audio-visual products.

Today, after a well deserved weekend rest, I am proudly, officially ready to announce that tonight, for the occasion of Barack Obama’s inauguration, will be broadcasted on French national television channel France Ô:   “J’ai fait un autre rêve”, a 52 minutes documentary by Fanta Traore, directed by William Lesueur, music by Willy Wizz

I know, many of you won’t get to see it, but knowing that you know about it, is already a great satisfaction for me, and for those that will see it, I hope you’ll enjoy it, for it was made with heart…

Thanksgiving With Stevie

Thanksgiving With Stevie

Even though in France we don’t celebrate thanksgiving, and that I’m a couple of days late, I’d like to use this Thanksgiving opportunity to say thank you to all you bloggers, followers, lovers, likers, that vehicle our ideas and thoughts, and help others in any possible situation one can imagine…

And second, tell you a little story about one of my Thanksgivings when I was living in LA, back in the eighties…

When I was a kid around 6 years old, my dad first introduced me to Stevie Wonder, and (you know how kids are) I asked him in front of everyone why he was wearing sunglasses if he was blind… We all know how cool he is and how much he hates being treated and seen as a blind person, so he really laughed his head-off so much back then, that I still hear about that story here and there…

A few years later around twelve, Stevie invited us for a Thanksgiving dinner at his house.
I had already seen many star’s homes but never any owned by a blind star.

The difference you may ask, was that in his home, Stevie had “eyes”, what I mean is that he took great pleasure in doing the regular things a “valid” person would like playing “air-hockey“, pool, driving…

Yes: driving ! The man loved to drive around his domain !

That whole night was very surreal for me, the dinner, the laughs when my uncle, who was also with us, was so uncomfortable that he would hide in the corners when Stevie would pass by (he probably knew it)… I’m glad I was young and innocent because if I had been older I would have been too impressed with the situation !

Stevie probably did not know he would leave unforgettable memories in a kid’s mind, but I left his house with my eyes full of stars, and my dreams gauge would stay filled for years to come…

Thank you Stevie (and Dad of course) !

One day I’ll tell you the story about how I met Eazy E in my own street in 1991,
on Larabee St and Sunset Bd, in West Hollywood…

As old Rastas in Jamaica would say: “Give thanks…”

 

 

 

Cardboard Music

Cardboard Music

Another version… (GGRP)

Packaging, merchandising, or both?

In one of my meetings with my future team, our graphic artist mentioned Kid Koala‘s latest release, and how much further we could take our creativity, to help position ourselves as the coolest kid on the block…

Some marketing genius came up with this astonishing idea of packaging a mini cardboard turntable along with its Flexidisc for people to assemble themselves, and get a brand new experience with the product.

By stirring up warm feelings from a certain nostalgia coming all the way back from the 60’s, this concept brings so much joy to the fan !

I remember in the mid 70’s to mid 80’s, when I was in France, I’d eagerly wait for my weekly “Pif Gadget” magazine, not so much for the magazine than for the DIY gadget packed inside, relentlessly asking my mom until I got it…

Unlike today the simplicity of these gadgets reflected a certain innocence of that period, and I was delighted to get such a sweet reminder of where I come from, especially in these times of uncertainty…

Another sweet memory it brings back, is my first encounter with analog sound (vibrations), when as a kid I’d be amazed at being able to listen to my parent’s records just with the stylus tip, regardless of amplification…

All this to talk about Magic, what it is, where to find it, and how to see it…

That release brought magic to me, because it gave me a small window on my beautiful years, gave me something to build using my grey matter, and helped my imagination take me someplace else… Undoubtedly the people behind this design had to be in phase with themselves, at least enough to bring back out the kid in them and come-up with such a simple yet so powerful idea

How often do consumer goods make you thankful for the user experience?
As a great music consumer, I would say almost never. Usually marketers tend to over do it with a lot of money invested in trends, without truly putting themselves in our shoes to understand what we’d want, which is usually simple and timeless…

This is the kind of marketing I admire, because it adds highly emotional value to the main product, making people want to have their own instead of just downloading the music. Another hidden value of this concept is sustainability because it can outlast the life of a song on medias, being an object you can display or use over and over without the need for the original record…

What other types of marketing/packaging genius did you come across, and what sensations did you get from that experience?


 

 

 

 

What about family?

Parenthood, Babyboom

This is a moment in my life where creation with a capital C comes into play…

My wife and I are planning on having our first child, and I feel that along with this media project of mine, I’ll be expecting two babies instead of one…

That leaves me with new doubts and questioning about new parenthood and entrepreneurship, and what actions to take, not to lose momentum on what’s already been done.

I would greatly appreciate some insight from those of you who have already been trough this and managed to use that situation to their advantage.

How did you manage your time between your startup and your spouse?

Has parenthood influenced your company vision, and have you made any changes as a consequence?

Has parenthood trained new skills you were able to use professionally?

Did you find new ways to do business, being less mobile?

Did your partners understand the shift, and were they ready for remote collaboration?

What other first-hand experience would you share to someone in my shoes?

The Global dilemma

Global dilemma

World Internet Users Statistics 2010 (Wikipedia)

I’d rather write about what I know, but there are times when you just got to admit you don’t have a clue, and because of that matter going around in my head for quite sometime,
I decided this new post would be in the form of a question.

My dilemma concerns my brands, facing internet.

As we all know, Internet is global and once an information is online,
it is there for everybody to see, so my question is:

how to manage the online presence of a brand, when only protected in one country?

What I mean is that I intend to go global with my brands, but I couldn’t afford global protection, so I reserved my trademarks for the UK as a starting point, but I am afraid that once I go public, anybody elsewhere could copy my concept, and counterfeit my name…

What would you advise me to do?

Wait for funding and then buy global protection, or start communicating now with what I already have, with the hope that it won’t get “stolen” elsewhere in the World?

In other words, how do you benefit from the power of internet, despite limited protection?

Please feel free to share your experience and insight and help me avoid a possible mistake and get me through this dilemma.

“Shaking the talent-tree…”

Shaking the talent tree

Because one of my trademarks will be a soul oriented label, I will rely on a strong talent database, within local artists and musicians.

However, for being one myself, I know how unproductive corporate talk and marketing talk can be when speaking to an artist, and I believe labels should strongly focus on the human rather than just figures and strategy…

This is why my main concern is to create a family of talents around the label, rather than just buy talent…

My secret is implication…

I want to create win-win situations with my artists, implicating them as producers themselves, by allowing production points for recordings (a percentage of the producer’s share) instead of cash at first, along with a 360° deal on all the other revenue streams like concerts, fan-clubs, merchandizing etc, meaning the more active the label, the more the artists will win, and vice-versa.

Since quality will be the top priority of the label, having a big roster of artists should make it difficult to maintain set standards (see “Illegal downloading” ), mostly because of the cost of production and the lack of personalized follow-up of each act…

I find a certain analogy with students in a crowded, noisy classroom with a giving-up teacher, as opposed to a private-school classroom of 7 students, given a quasi-personalized lesson, by a well renowned professor seeking for excellence…

Which students do you think would be most likely to succeed?

In my producer’s career, I’ve been fortunate to have met some of the most generous, talented artists and musicians, and I know that the secret lies in finding caring, dedicated people to share a vision with, and give them enough incentive to unleash their creativity.

This is the reason why today I’m officially shaking the talent tree and asking for your demos and contacts to help create an artistic noah’s arch with soulful, generous and talented people, and set sail for an unexplored horizon of urban crafts.

You can either send me links, comments or private messages,
I will get in touch, no doubt !

Willy Wizz:

Gratitude can make the difference !

Originally posted on SETH D. COHEN:

By Seth D. Cohen

Gratitude

When managing your business and employees or simply shopping at the supermarket it’s worth trying to offer gratitude.  It’s a gesture that can only come from the heart.

Everyone is so busy and withdrawn from reality. Only a few worry about being gracious, being thankful, and being appreciative.  Separate yourself from others and the competition  and offer up some gratitude.

How to accomplish this? Start by saying Thank You.

With Gratitude,

~SDC

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Follow Seth D. Cohen on twitter @sdcohen

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