If Digital is The Wild West, Why Not Be a Pioneer?

Meme_S1E6_9Today, literally right now, might just be one of the greatest times in history to be a visual storyteller.

In the past, if you wanted to see your story ever make it to an audience (whether on the big screen or television) you had no choice but to get it past the gatekeepers. Production was so cost prohibitive, and distribution outlets so unaccessible, that green lighting yourself in any professional manner was near impossible.

Your only hope of finding an audience was if the gatekeepers decided you were worthy enough for them to merit giving it to you. And even if you were the chosen one and your story was produced and distributed, there was no 2nd and 3rd screen, no bonus content, no audience interaction. Your story lived in one form and one form only.

But now, sweet beautiful now, all that has changed. Technology has advanced so much that even your phone is a high quality camera and sound department. You can have advanced editing software on your laptop to the tune of $20 a month. And Distribution? There are 15 year olds out there right now who have used Youtube to garner literally millions of loyal fans. They didn’t have to ask for permission, they just did it, often times with a team of one. The restrictions are gone.

And to top it all off, we are no longer confined to telling a story simply for the big or little screen, no, there are storytellers out there, as we speak, who are telling stories across 5 platforms at once (for e.g Emma Approved which recently won an Interactive Emmy.)

For all intensive purposes Emma Approved is a web show, a clever re-telling of the classic Jane Austen novel Emma, where Emma Woodhouse, this time a lifestyle coach, has decided to film her successes (Vlog style over 72 episodes) for a future documentary of her life. But the storytelling doesn’t end there. Just like any real lifestyle coach would, Emma has her own blog, twitter account (as do all the characters on the show), photo gallery of fashion tips, and even Music Club Videos created by her assistant Harriet.

The team at Emma Approved even went a step further, truly breaking the 4th wall, when they allowed people to bid for real on the fictitious bachelor auction “Emma” was sponsoring to raise money for charity. (they raised $4k and the money did actually go to a charity so its all good)

My point in sharing all this is simply to inspire you with the possibilities which leads me to….

Industry Tip #13
We are living in exciting times where our imagination truly is the limit. There is still so much room to be a Pioneer, to go where no one in storytelling has gone before, and I really hope you will seize it. Carpe diem.

As many of you know, Mhairi and I have been enjoying the new possibilities as well. We have Feathers and Toast (the web cooking show starring Tallulah), Tallulah’s Vlog Tallulah Talks Back, twitter accounts for Tallulah, Holster & Marge, Behind The Scenes Blogs and Vlogs, the Memes series, a Boutique (which we intend to expand to sell Tallulah’s favorite things) and the soon to be 1/2 hour comedy Tallulah, Darling.

Plus you can actually see “Tallulah” live and in person every month, as she attempts to hijack, I mean host, the French Cabaret show known as FEMMES by Cabaret Versatile at the Sofitel in Beverly Hills.

Have I inspired you yet? I hope so because we need the stories that only you can tell. So get cracking and let your imagination fly. Virtual Reality is the next untapped frontier.

Without further ado, your videos for the day are of the first time Tallulah hosted the Cabaret show (both before and during her show). It also marked the first time we brought the Holster character into the storyline.

For the Love of Goldie

Meme_Feb_2So I pulled up to a stop sign yesterday and looked left to see if the coast was clear and there she was, my hero, Goldie Hawn, just standing there, quietly, in her yoga clothes, simply waiting to cross the street.

I had to take a double take. Could this really be the woman who I have admired my whole life? The woman who is in no small way the influence that has me even writing this blog, just standing there, a few feet away from me? The posture and the blonde hair were unmistakable, then she turned her head a little, yep that’s her, my heart skipped a beat.

I wanted to jump right out of the car and give her a hug.

I wanted to tell her that from the first time I saw her when I was a kid I just somehow knew the wisdom, compassion and strength that lurked behind that giggle, that every time she spoke she consistently said things that made me feel better about my world, that she exemplified everything I aspired to be, my perfect role model.

I wanted to tell her that it was when I saw her interview with Barbara Walters some 20 years ago where she refused to complain about the lack of roles for older woman and instead simply said “where are the women writers? do we really expect men to write these complex older female roles?” that I agreed with her and it was in that moment I committed myself to being a screenwriter and wrote my first screenplay with the idea of her in the starring role.

I wanted to tell her all those things, my heart was swelling, but luckily sanity prevailed, and instead I just smiled lovingly at the lady who meant so much to me and unceremoniously turned right, moved to tears by the coincidence that I had just written about her last week in my blog.

Is this a sign that we will one day meet? Or was that my one shot and I didn’t take it? I don’t really know, but I am pretty sure the way to meet your favorite role model is not by accosting her on the street, so I will just have to wait to see what fate has in store. 🙂

Either way this moment put me in touch with the thought of just how valuable it is to have role models, which leads me to…

Industry Tip #11

When going after big dreams, study the lives and work of the people you admire most, as their life examples can offer a valuable treasure map guiding you in the direction you want to go.

Who is your hero and why? Would love to hear your stories.

In the meantime, I leave you with another one of my favorite Tallulah Talks Back. In this one she is being a role model calling out Will Infantine on his infantile suggestion that men deserve better pay than women because they take greater risks. Tallulah’s response? What could be riskier than pursuing a career as a talking mime, darling? Lol

The First Rule of Youtube is You Don’t Quit Youtube

unnamedI learned this lesson the hard way with my first web series, The Sex Trade. We created 6 episodes and then released them. Everything went well, in fact, phenomenally well (we ended up with over a 100,000 views in those first 6 weeks) but then that was all she wrote (literally, the she was me, and that’s all I wrote).

We didn’t have any more episodes and weren’t going to have any more episodes, only now I had strangers out there that were literally mad at me for not finishing what I had started so to speak, which was both hilarious and guilt inducing all at the same time.

I’m not sure what I had thought I was doing. At the time, I was mostly just trying to prove my writing ability. I figured it would be easier to get Execs to click on a link and watch than to read a script, and so I just produced the show and put it out there, but things did not go at all as I had expected. I never even factored in the possibility that there was a legitimate youtube audience that might get attached to it, and frankly it didn’t turn out to be any easier to get Execs to click than read (at least not for me) and so as time went by it became increasingly more obvious that I needed to come up with a different strategy.

What I eventually learned was that regardless of whether you intend to use Youtube as your primary business model (creating content specifically for youtube in exchange for ad dollars/sponsorship etc) or whether you use it as I do, as a development/marketing strategy for projects you’d like to eventually expand to TV, you really have to be in it for the long haul, ready to be consistently releasing new material over a long stretch of time in order to gain any sort of real momentum, traction and brand loyalty, and for me this meant creating content that was more practical in terms of time constraints and budget.

These lessons directly affected my opinions on how to move forward when it came to producing Feathers and Toast. Even though right from the beginning, Mhairi and I always knew there was a bigger story we wanted to tell, we intentionally narrowed it down to the aspect of the story we could reasonably afford to produce, meaning content that didn’t require fundraising, asking anyone for favors or endless amounts of our time but could still be done well, and the answer to that turned out to be Tallulah’s cooking show (which of course is only one piece of Tallulah’s larger life.)

Once we got into it, we realized even the cooking show took up an extensive amount of time, more than we could extend over long periods of time without throwing our lives out of whack and eventually dreading the process (which was unacceptable to us) so we made the decision not to jump into Season 2 right away. Instead we embarked on what I will call, our experimental year.

We started producing short, almost Vlog style videos, except they were entirely in character. Our schedule became getting together once a week and in about 4 hours we would come up with the idea, shoot it, edit it and post it (and pretty much laugh all the way through.) We never knew what we were going to do before we would do it, we went off on mad tangents, dipped into politics, threw in some wacky Monty Python-esque stuff. I was practicing directing, and Mhairi was practicing being a one take wonder. We were just being comedians, trying stuff, as if Youtube was our virtual comedy club, where we could see what people responded to and in the end really learn who Tallulah was.

I’d love to say we intentionally spent an entire year throwing Tallulah into all manner of current affairs and life experiences because we knew that it would be a really cool way to deeply develop her character while simultaneously building a really strong brand (which did happen and we are grateful) but the truth is we just did it out of an organic need to create more content. Hind sight being 20/20 however, I would definitely do it all over again.

The result was a series of videos we called “Tallulah Talks Back” and the “Top 10 Holiday Tidbits” which I will be sharing with you over the next couple months (in no particular order) which leads me to…

Industry Tip #10

If you are planning to use Youtube to build your brand, consistent quality content is key, emphasis on the consistent, so make sure your ideas are ones you can afford to produce (time/money) over the long term without getting yourself burnt out.

So without further ado I leave you with the first Tallulah Talks Back episode that popped into my mind to share where Tallulah teaches you “How to meditate and quiet the Mime.” Lol. We loved this one.

Another minute of Behind The Scenes

Dear Summer-timers,

Why not indulge in another 60 secs of pure unedited Feathers and Toast Behind the Scenes as you sip your lemonades and iced teas and whatnot. In this episode the inspiration behind the show is explained in precise detail, which is clearly something you all have been dying to know.


Yours in heat wave feathers,


The return of the kale darling

Dear Summer-timers,

Hope this finds you well. Well darling the same cannot be said for me I’m afraid. I have been hauled out of shooting for the next few weeks in order to focus on pre production of season 2 of Feathers and Toast despite a trip yesterday to the hairdressers to enhance my red highlighted hair.

So darling, to be honest, my freckled nose is slightly out of whack as I like to be camera ready and miming my way to you on a weekly basis. One needs a 2 minute mime to cheer one up come rain or shine, I would have thought. But the powers that be have decided otherwise, and as I am only 5ft 3 in stature I cannot tackle them physically; one needs to be reasonable when sizing up the odds of winning such scuffles.

But darling, they cannot prevent us from watching re-runs. In true summer style lets have a few weeks of season one and relive the classic kale moments, tomato squelching and neon fusion cooking in order to best prepare for the imminence of season 2. (please do remember at this point to refrain from wearing crocs while watching)

Pull up your cocktails and un-croc’d feet and settle in for 4 minutes of kale cooking splendor in action,

Yours in re-run feathers,



One Minute Behind The Scenes

Dear Mid weekers,

Hope this finds you sweltering happily somewhere and that lemonade is not too far off in your future. Just wanted to send you a 1 minute film of behind the scenes to explain what the show is all about and to give you a never before seen insight into Feathers and Toast HQ.


Yours in summery feathers,


How to debate online without going all CAPS

Dear Summertime-ers,

I hope this finds you surrounded by sunflowers and BBQs enjoying the long summer days and whatnot. While living it up in your summertime havens please take 2 minutes or so to watch an episode of my show which advises on how to have a debate without resorting to violence or CAPITAL letters, which, lets be honest, is pretty offensive even at the best of times, let alone when sweltering in the summertime heat-waves.

Yours in summerery feathers,



The cabaret and the mime

Dear weekenders,

Hope this finds you preparing accordingly for the longest day of the year with glasses of elderflower juice and thoughts of Midsummer Nights Dream. This week I have been asked to open the French cabaret cancan dancers, Cabaret Versatile, which is what happens when one is famous darling.One must do these sorts of openings and things. So Feathers and Toast will be live for the very first time in history.This weeks episode comes direct from the Green Room right before going out to the audience of millions.

Hold onto your famous French feathers,



The Ultimate Antidote to the pressures of Modern Life

Dear weekenders,

Darling, lets be frank. Often times we are pushed to our very brink with the level of stress and anxiety which greets us at every twist, turn and waking moment of the day. Fear not however, one does not have to be broken to smithereens. Instead darling, it is, with a little 60 second “time out”, entirely possible to rise like a phoenix from the ashes and simply soften the stressed out blows.

Please watch and learn and let your life return to its gentle merry glory unvexed by whatever storms may come.

Yours in very relaxed feathers,



How to Fight Off Bad News

Dear Summer-timers,


The blossoms are well and truly in full bloom and pink feather boas are everywhere you look darling. The only possible straw that threatens to break your happy camels back is all the bad news that comes at you thick and fast on a daily basis. The world wide news darling of revolutions and such and personal attacks, nobody is immune to being a little blue…no matter how yellow the sun is shining. So instead of wallowing darling, spend the next 3 minutes watching how you too can fight off successfully any type of bad news that may come your way.

Yours in happy good news feathers,