Thursday, 30 August 2012

Adventures in shameless self-promotion...

My plan was simple. Set a high but not unrealistic target for new subscribers to the Jenny Ringo website. Write a direct and slightly dictatorial blog post about how people can help me hit that target. Sit back and let the internet work its magic!

Then I went on holiday to teach my son about the important things in life, like the names of all the gangs in Warriors.

When I came back I found there were a handful of new subscribers but not the 500 I was aiming for. The list was up to 250. From 245.

I know this is starting to look a little like maths with all these numbers but bear with me.

It's now up to 316, which isn't a crazy amount but it's pretty good all the same. It took a lot of effort to get that far. I've risked being a bit annoying and I'm guilty of spamming forums and Facebook and practically sabotaging my twitter account, but I have been sure to reply to any responses and have always offered to check out other peoples' stuff in return. I've also made good on that offer whenever people have taken me up on it. 

At the risk of repeating myself, I honestly feel this is how the internet should work. We're all creators now, whether it's our blogs or films or ebooks or whatever. It's not enough to put something online and say 'look at me! look what I made!'. I knew this already, even before I went away and expected the internet to do all the work for me, I just hadn't properly put it into practice yet.

It doesn't always work. The majority of people I contact about the film ignore me, just like I used to ignore most people promoting their stuff online. But sometimes it does work, and that's mostly where the extra subscribers have come from.

I've learnt a great many things from this.

I've learnt you can't check out peoples' stuff, leave them nice/helpful feedback and then expect them to seek out your stuff in return. It happens sometimes, but mostly those people just say thanks and you never hear from them again. 

I've learnt that I really need to catch up with the rest of the world and get a magic phone instead of the primitive rubber bouncy phone I got because I kept getting posh phones and dropping them on the floor and down toilets. My rubber bouncy phone is specially made for construction workers and people doing extreme sports (who obviously need to make important calls when they're like jumping off mountains or whatever). And presumably clumsy people like me. But at the moment I can't do any of this stuff on the move so have to cram all my networking into the few minutes spare between work and teaching my son about important things like the complex history of the Geth/Quarian dispute.

I've learnt that there are a lot of people out there making stuff. Some of the stuff is really good and should be more popular than it is, some of the stuff is not so good but all of it is very creative.

I've learnt that it's a great way to find more films to show at MovieBar (if you're in Brighton next Monday head over to the Caroline of Brunswick at 7.30pm for a night of truly awesome short films, some of which I found by bugging people online)

I've learnt that mostly people are really nice and genuinely appreciate random strangers taking the time to check out their work, much like I do. I'm actually rather depressed about the fact that despite the film being on vimeo and YouTube and a few dozen forums I haven't encountered a single troll to date. I should probably be careful what I wish for.

I've learnt that sometimes people are so nice they go above and beyond the call of duty and write stuff about my film online - 

I've also learnt that Shooting People don't let people join their site for free anymore. They probably haven't for years, it's just I've been a fully paid up member since it started so just assumed it worked the way it used to. This is a significant blow as the focus of pushing up my numbers was to get an army of people to vote for Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw in Shooting People's Film of the Month competition next month. Obviously I can't expect people to pay a membership fee just to vote for me so I now have to rely on the small proportion of subscribers who are actually Shooting People members to help.

But that's okay, because I like a challenge. Plus if I had realised that sooner I may not have bothered with all this networking nonsense, would have 70 or so less subscribers to the Jenny Ringo mailing list and wouldn't have chatted to a bunch of awesome people all over the world about their projects. Online distribution for short films may not be as glamourous or prestigious as the traditional film festival and awards route but it's certainly a lot more interesting!

So I'm still entering the competition next month (sign up to the mailing list at to get details of how you can help) and I'm still going for 500 subscribers. It may take a while but as promised I will post that 10 minute outtake video once we hit 500.

As always, if you help me out with this I'll happily return the favour.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Your mission, should you choose to accept it...

So last weekend I challenged Jenny Ringo fans to get the views of Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw on vimeo up to 300. It's now on 343. Not massive numbers, I know, but for a 25 minute film 343 views is pretty awesome. And it gave me the idea for the next target.

People watching the film is fantastic. I hugely appreciate anyone taking the time to watch it and I'm thrilled that so many people have done so. However, if I'm going to take this any further I need people to get a bit more involved.

When I finished Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw I set up a mailing list. The purpose of this was to gather an audience for the films all in one place. The problem was I didn't really know what I wanted to use it for. Now I do know.

As I mentioned in my last post, next month I'm entering Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw into an online competition and I intend to win. For that I will need an army of voters, ready to sacrifice a couple of minutes and a few mouse clicks for the cause. That's where you come in.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to help me get 500 subscribers to the Jenny Ringo mailing list. I know that sounds like a lot, but we're on 245 so we're already halfway there. You can do this by posting something like 'Sign up to the mailing list at because it's awesome!!!' in all the usual places.

Here are some things to consider -

Why should you help?


If we hit 500 subscribers by the end of the month I will upload the full ten minute outtakes video from the first film. This is not just any outtakes video - these are the outtakes of a bunch of people who don't really know what they're doing. On watching this video you will wonder how we ever managed to finish a film at all. It's quite funny. But I'm only going to upload it if we hit 500 subscriptions.

Why would you want to sign up to the mailing list in the first place?


I'm planning on taking this campaign a little further each month so there should be some exciting stuff on the horizon. Plus I totally shot a sequel this year! It's a couple of months off being finished, but if you're not signed up to the list that won't mean anything because you won't be able to see it anyway. I plan on doing exactly the same thing I did with the first film - those who are signed up to the mailing list get to see it way before anyone else does.

I also have loads of extra awesomeness to upload as we go along so I will make it worth your while!

And don't worry about being inundated with e-mails. At most it will be one a month, usually less frequent than that. And I use Mail Chimp so it's easy to unsubscribe whenever you like.

What can I do for you?


As I've said before if you help me out I'm happy to return the favour. If you need support for your project and you've helped me out with mine just e-mail me at whatwritesatmidnight[at] with the details and I'll see what I can do.

If you don't have stuff to promote then I will just be very very grateful for your help.

I'm going away for a week now. When I get back I expect the numbers to be up near the 500 mark.

Thank you for your help!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Everyday Joe...

A few years ago my brother was working on a film that turned into an animation that ended up as a radio play. At one stage I was helping with the script, although in reality I was probably contributing to some of the setbacks by giving endless notes every time he wrote a new draft. In the end he did it his own way and it's all the better for it.

Pete has detailed the troubled production history of the project on his blog and it's worth a read because in some ways it ties into what the play is about. The fact that it started life as a film, turned into an animation and ended up as a radio play simply drives the point of the story home. It's a story about creativity and boredom and how sometimes things don't work out the way we plan them to, and how sometimes that's okay. It's a story about ambition and how sometimes it's hard to see what's really important because of it.

Pete wrote it when he was unemployed and making the most of the time between finishing his A-levels at Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College and leaving for university in Newport. It reminds me of the summer I spent making a short film when I was unemployed between finishing my A-levels at Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College and going to university in Norwich (although films from that era of my existence will never ever be shown, mostly because I act in them. It's not pretty). Like Pete I abandoned that project when ambition gave way to reality, but unlike Pete I didn't go back and finish it.

That's partly what makes this awesome. The story of Everyday Joe is a story that started a decade ago, but it's also a story us creative types will be re-living over and over again. If you've ever worked on any kind of project that took over your life for a while, you will relate to Everyday Joe. Please listen, leave comments and share with the internet - 

Monday, 13 August 2012

Jenny Ringo 2 update...

So Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw hit 300 views over the weekend, mostly due to awesome people sharing the link on Facebook and Twitter. In return I promised an update on where I am with the sequel. Along with some photos, like this one.

To recap, the edit was finished a few months ago but then progress stopped for a bit because of this bloke...

But before my son was born I managed to get it to a sound designer and a composer who have been working on it ever since, plus I have a sound mixer helping to get things organised for when the various elements are ready to be put together. I've had the first few sound and music samples through and it's all sounding fantastic. I still need to arrange a session to re-record some dialogue but hopefully that will be the last thing I need to do when it comes to the sound. Yes, that's a pretty big, time-consuming thing, but on my to do list it looks no more intimidating than one of the lesser jobs like 'write new blog post'.

On the visual side of things there is one major effects shot that needs to be done, and then there are a couple of other bits that would vastly improve things if they are possible so I need to find someone who can do effects-type stuff.

I'm also hoping I can get a trailer and a music video edited too.

If all goes to plan I think we're probably two or three months off being finished. It's taken a bit longer than I wanted it to, but all things considered I think we're making good progress. And it's given me some time to start pushing the first film a bit more in the hope of creating an audience for the second.

(You have seen the first film, right? And you've signed up to the mailing list? And liked our Facebook page? Have you considered leaving a comment on vimeo or YouTube? Maybe even an imdb review?)

The next phase of my evil plan to take over the world is to get more people to sign up to the mailing list. Getting more people to see the film is awesome, obviously, but what I need are people who will stick around for the next one. In September I'm going to enter it into a competition that requires a public vote and I fully intend to win. For that I will need help. I'll post full details later in the week, and this time I promise the rewards will be much more awesome than a blog post like this one (although you did get to see baby Eric in a Batman top - is there anything more awesome than that?)

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw...

Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw was finished around this time last year. It had its first public screening at MovieBar in September and subsequently screened at Cinecity in Brighton, Cine East in London and the Edge of the City Film Festival where it picked up an award. The film has also had some fantastic support from bloggers and a full list of reviews can be found here.


Look, you can watch it right here - 

This is the part I've really been looking forward to. My plan for Jenny Ringo has never been limited to one film. We've already shot a second film, Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell, and we have an excellent script for a third. However, if I'm going to take this any further I need to get as many people to see it and share it as possible, and to do that I'll need help.

 First, please watch the film. Finished? Okay, what did you think?

If it's not your thing then that's okay. I really appreciate you taking the time to watch it and if you get chance to leave some feedback in the comments here or on vimeo that would be awesome.

If you liked it, even if you only liked bits of it, then here's a list of stuff you can do to help. Now I realise some of these things are a big ask but if you stick with me I will get to the part about what I can offer in return. First, here are your instructions...

1) Sign up to our mailing list at That way you can keep up to date on the progress of the second film and any other related projects. At the moment we send out an update once every two months so you won't be bombarded with e-mails. My wife Andrea writes most of the e-mails and she is funnier than I am so that's an added bonus.

2) 'Like' our Facebook page. We tend to post more regular updates on there plus you can interact with other people who liked the film. And then all your friends will wonder what this awesome-looking thing you're a fan of is all about and maybe they'll sign up too! You can also 'like' the film on vimeo or on YouTube.

3) Leave a comment telling me and the rest of the world what you think. You can do that at the end of this post, or on vimeo or on YouTube, or on the Facebook page or even write a review on the imdb page. I'm not after 100% positive feedback here, be as critical as you like (and yes I may regret saying that), but what I'm interested in is starting some interaction and generating discussions.

4) Like what Batman said, 'Tell all your friends about me.' i.e. share the video on Facebook, retweet the link, e-mail people, maybe even use good old-fashioned talking with your mouth.

5) If you have a blog of your own, or a vlog, or contribute to anything that is vaguely related to films at all then consider writing a review all of your own. Then send me the link and I'll publicise your blog/vlog/whatever on here. 

6) If you know anyone who writes a blog or contributes to a film review website, pass on the link to the film and see if they will consider reviewing it.
As I said, a big ask. I am aware that I am but one of a billion online artists craving your time and attention. However, what I can offer is this. If you have a creative project of your own, whether it's a film, a band, a blog or anything at all, let me know and I'll return the favour. If you do any of the above for Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw I'll do the same for your project. I can't promise to like everything, but as regular readers will know I'm not big on negativity here so I will always highlight the positives. If this is something you are interested in here's what you need to do -

- E-mail me at whatwritesatmidnight[at]

- Say something to the effect of 'Hey! I liked/reviewed/blogged about Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw! Please do the same for my film/band/art/blog/stuff [insert link here].

- I will confirm that you are awesome and that I have reciprocated your awesomeness.

I can't promise a quick turnaround due to dad duties but I will definitely return the favour.

That is all. Thank you in advance.