Category Archives: film

Life with the boring parts cut out.

Social Network Creep

The Social Network, a David Fincher film.

If you’re intrigued, as I am, by the trailer for David Fincher’s upcoming The Social Network, and if part of what compels you about the trailer is the musical score—a choral version of Radiohead’s “Creep”—you’ll be happy to know you can purchase said song via emusic.com: On The Rocks is the album, “Creep” is the track, and Scala, a Belgian all-teenage-girl choir, are the artists. Highly recommended.

P.S. If emusic.com had an affiliate program, I’d have free music for life.

The Big Web Show: Melissa Pierce

Melissa Pierce

Update! Final audio and video are now available for your listening and viewing pleasure at 5by5.tv. This is a wonderful episode about filmmaking and using the internet to reinvent yourself. Don’t miss it.

Live tomorrow, Thursday May 13, at 1:00 PM Eastern, my co-host Dan Benjamin and I interview Melissa Pierce, producer of the documentary film, Life In Perpetual Beta in The Big Web Show Episode 3: “Re-invent Yourself.”

Melissa Pierce’s film asks the question, “is the planned life worth living?” and sketches an answer via interviews with the likes of Baratunde Thuston, Irina Slutsky, and Biz Stone. Watch us turn the tables on the interviewer (now our interviewee) to find out how a homemaker with no filmmaking experience became the darling of the Chicago Independent Film Festival. As always, your live phone-in questions are welcome.

And don’t miss these upcoming Big Web Show episodes:

Episode 4: “Content Strategy”

Thursday, May 20
1:00 PM Eastern

Featuring Kristina Halvorson, CEO, Brain Traffic and author, Content Strategy for the Web (New Riders, 2010); and Erin Kissane, content strategist, Happy Cog, and author, Incisive.nu.

Episode 5: “UX and Higher Ed”

Thursday, May 27
1:00 PM Eastern

Featuring Liz Danzico, chair, MFA in Interaction Design program at School of Visual Arts and author, Bobulate.


Little Z on BigThink

BigThink is a global online forum, conducting interviews with such folk as Paul Krugman, Professor of Economics, Princeton, and Columnist, The New York Times; Jimmy Wales, Co-Founder, Wikipedia; Richard Armitage, Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State; Wes Boyd, Co-Founder, MoveOn.org; Gerry Adams President, Sinn Fein; Moby, Kurt Andersen, and so on.

By some tragic error of judgement, they will interview me today.

When the resulting video appears on the site, you’ll be the second to know.

[tags]bigthink, interviews, zeldman[/tags]

Stick out your tongue

While employed at a famous New York advertising agency twenty years ago, a partner and I created a TV commercial touting an over-the-counter medicine client’s revolutionary new cold and flu remedy for young children.

Only when the shooting and shouting was over did we learn that the product did not, in fact, exist.

The commercial whose every creative detail we’d had to fight for was never going to run.

The client—the marketing side of a product development group—had a budget of $60,000 to spend. So they spent it, even though the R&D side of the product development group had not been able to deliver the product.

It was not a liquid medicine that needed to be measured. It was not a pill that needed to be chewed or swallowed. It was a pill that dissolved instantly on the tongue. Or would have been, if the engineers had been able to create it.

During weeks of presentation, the client rejected campaigns that would have caught the attention of the nation’s parents. The client bought a safe campaign that called less attention to itself, then set about systematically softening its edges. My partner and I wanted to cast like Fellini or Woody Allen. We brought in amazing children of various backgrounds, their faces rich in character. But the client picked cute blonde girls instead.

And so on. Every decision, however small, required approval. Everything was a fight. A ladies-and-gentlemanly fight. A fight that sounded like polite, mutually respectful discussion. A fight with invisible knives.

We won some and we lost some. For all the back-and-forth with the client, the resulting commercial wasn’t bad at all. The first few times anyone—even the guy delivering sandwiches—saw it, they laughed. Afterwards, they smiled. It could have been okay. It could have gotten my partner and me out of that agency and to a better one.

After the shoot was completed, the client told our account executive that the product did not exist and the commercial was never going to run.

The client had known this going in. So why didn’t they let us win more creative battles? Because they wanted something soft and safe to show the boss who had the power of life and death over their budget.

Why did the boss give them $60,000 to produce a commercial for a product that didn’t exist? Because that’s how corporations work. If they didn’t spend advertising dollars in 1988, they wouldn’t get ad dollars in 1989, when (in theory) they would finally have a product to advertise.

Governments, at least the ones I know of, work the same way. Since last night, the city of New York has been paving 34th Street in places it doesn’t need to be paved. Why do they do this? To justify the budget. In a better world, money set aside to pave streets that don’t need paving would be reassigned to something the city actually needs—like affordable housing, or medical care for poor or homeless people. But cities are corporations—that Mike Bloomberg is New York’s mayor merely confirms this—and few corporations are agile enough to rethink budgetary distributions on the basis of changing needs.

Last week, in an airport, on one of the inescapable widescreen TVs set to CNN (and always set to the wrong resolution) I saw a commercial for a revolutionary children’s medicine product that melts instantly on the tongue.

I guess they finally made it.

[tags]advertising, design, artdirection, writing, copywriting, TV, production, commercials, adverts, wisdom, work, experience, budgets, business, waste, government, medicine, OTC, overthecounter, newyork, nyc[/tags]

Podcast news

Crisply produced Voices That Matter Podcast video interviews with your humble narrator and a host of design and web luminaries—people like Nathan Shedroff, Dori Smith and Tom Negrino, Stephanie Sullivan, Robert Hoekman, Jr., Aarron Walter, DL Byron and many more—are now available for your listening and viewing pleasure in the iTunes Music Store and at Peachpit.

Additional Happy-Cog-related SXSW video, coming soon, includes:

  • A discussion on user interface design between Michael Lopp and me
  • Video of the Everyone’s a Design Critic presentation featuring Jason Santa Maria and Rob Weychert
  • Video of the Respect! panel featuring Google’s Douglas Bowman and Happy Cog’s Erin Kissane, Liz Danzico, and Jason Santa Maria (and moderated by your humble)

Watch for announcements!

[tags]podcast, video, interview, zeldman, sxsw, voicesthatmatter, peachpit, authors[/tags]

Quentin Tarantino has a lot to answer for

Dragging my cheap three-wheeled suitcase home from Penn Station after a Boston business trip late Tuesday night, I passed three businessmen standing in the middle of Park Avenue with their raincoats awry. White, pushing 40, a few beers past sober. The one who slightly resembled Larry of the Three Stooges was trying to keep the party going.

“One more fucking beer,” he said. “Come on. I’ll fucking pay for it, motherfucker.”

Ever since Pulp Fiction electrified audiences and changed the film industry, every putz pushing 40 with a few beers in him thinks he is Samuel L. Jackson. Quentin Tarantino has a lot to answer for.

[tags]reallife, myglamorouslife, putz, pulpfiction, tarantino, pennstation, samuelljackson, zeldman[/tags]

Proposed Catch-Phrases for the Next Bruce Willis Film

  • E-I-E-I-O, motherfucker!
  • Hi-ho, the motherfuckin’ dairy-o, motherfucker!
  • Anchors aweigh, motherfucker!
  • Hinky dinky parlez-vous, motherfucker!
  • Skip to my loo, motherfucker!
  • A tisket, a tasket, motherfucker!
  • Pocket full of posies, motherfucker!
  • The cheese stands alone, motherfucker!

[tags]catchphrases, hollywood, screenwriting, scriptwriting, brucewillis[/tags]