Hello Monday – April 20, 2020
Welcome to Hello Monday, the weekly, company-wide news show for the volunteer-run 501(c)3 nonprofit, Blue Forge Group. We were founded in 1989 to empower underrepresented storytellers, bring light to the shadows, voice to the silence, and make storytelling accessible across all mediums.
Every Monday we share all the changes, announcements, casting calls, job openings and news for our four divisions: Blue Forge Films, Blue Forge Press, Blue Forge Gaming, and Blue Forge Records.
If you are one of the 800+ artisans who work with us – an author, musician, game designer, filmmaker or actor – keeping up with Hello Monday keeps you in the loop. And you don’t have to watch: You can just listen to the episode or you can read the transcript each Monday at www.tiny.cc/hellomondayblog
My name is Maxwell DiMarco and I’m a co-owner, actor and editor at Blue Forge. I’m also your host for today’s episode. My thanks to Faith DiMarco, the dedicated editor of Hello Monday as well as an actor, producer and co-owner of Blue Forge.
* * *
Blue Forge Films. How does a film division stay open when stay-at-home orders are in place? How does a film division function after those orders are lifted but there remains a need for social distancing? There is no single correct answer but we have embraced ours.
Using a combination of methods (animated shorts and features, remote filming, staged shifts, self-taping, found footage, remote direction) we have already greenlit fourteen new and existing projects that can be created safely without sacrificing quality. The majority of these projects will be produced for the Blue Village acting troupe (more on them next).
But we’re also looking at ways to revise additional existing projects to keep everyone safe. Sometimes this will mean recasting. Other times it will mean assigning crew members who are already quarantined with actors or moving projects from the Blue Door Studio to the Green Door Studio or the Black Door Studio once the campus reopens.
It also means that, more than ever before, the Yellow Door Studio and the Purple Door Studio are needed for unique and versatile spaces that can be transformed into anything that’s needed (as opposed to renting a public space). We’ll be revisiting those projects (the fund-raising and volunteering) later this year.
* * *
Blue Village. Blue Village is an imprint of Blue Forge Films. It’s a member-run and member-owned acting imprint where actors vote on what films Blue Village produces, what festivals to send them to, whether to release game and book tie-ins, etc. The members have the power.
Blue Village has made two short films so far and just moved into pre-production on its first feature film. The first short film was My Wyvern Heart which is available now at www.tiny.cc/blueflix and on Amazon. The second film was Sound & Silence which will be sent to festivals throughout 2020.
Blue Village members not only run and own the imprint collectively, they are guaranteed roles in Blue Village films and as of now, we also create web pages for each member and acting reel. Memberships to Blue Village start at $24 a year. You can find out more at www.tiny.cc/bluevillage or go to blueforgefilms.com and click Blue Village.
* * *
Comic Books Postponed. Five of our artisans were slotted to work with comic book artists in April and May to create the first issues of comic adaptations of their brands. Due to the current health crisis and the resulting economic issues, all three artists have had to step away from the projects because they pay a royalty on sales instead of an upfront stipend.
We have applied to six grants to try to secure the funds needed to pay the artists upfront. We will know if we’ve been awarded the grants between July and November 2020.
* * *
Audio Books Awaiting Approval. All deluxe audio editions have been edited and are waiting for vendor/distributor approval. We have no control over the approval timeline. Whether you’re working with ACX and iTunes, Amazon or Google, there are delays.
We had David McCulloch and Kathryn Crawford’s deluxe audio book of An Uncertain Journey get approved in eight days – very fast! But perhaps this was because it’s nonfiction and was given priority treatment.
The moment your audio edition is available, we’ll email you directly.
* * *
Digital Feast of Words. Here we go. This is the main focus of today’s episode of Hello Monday. We know that many of you are keeping busy with writing deadlines and new projects and others are simply not feeling creative right now. Both of those truths are absolutely fine and we encourage you to do whatever you need to do to stay safe and sane.
However, as business owners, we have to start making decisions about how to move into the future now. You may think: “Hey, everything will be back to the way it was soon!” And you have the right to think that. But after consulting with medical, business and government representatives in our industries and in our community, that is not the foundation Blue Legacy is starting from.
Books, albums, games and films do not just magically get discovered by the public. They must be promoted – showcased to the public.
The digital Feast of Words is a series of five-minute videos where authors, game designers, filmmakers, and musicians talk about their work and what they love the most about it, why that work has value and passion.
Each video focuses on just one book, album, game or film. It allows artisans to really think about their own work and why they create. It also reminds artisans that to make a living at this, you must stay engaged and passionate about your work.
Artisans film themselves at home on a cell phone or with a camera on a tripod. They send those videos to us. We explained how to make these videos and even gave an example of one in last week’s Hello Monday. You can find that episode at www.tiny.cc/hellomonday
When we receive the videos, we edit them to include a special opener and a special closer with ordering information. Then we post the videos online and – here’s the important part! – every Blue Forge artisan will be sent an email and asked to share the link to your video. Artisans will support one another.
Now, originally, the digital Feast of Words was only for artisans who have inventory of their own books, albums, films or games. But we have partnered with two of our distributors and now ALL artisans can participate! If you don’t have inventory of your work but want to make a video and actively engage in selling your work and increasing your monthly royalty, then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have inventory of your work, we’ll send you a postage label etc just like we’ve talked about in past Hello Mondays but if you don’t have inventory, the distributors will ship for you.
This is a massive Blue Forge community undertaking and, with everyone working together, it will be a success. We start posting videos this Friday, April 24.
But please hear this: If you cannot make a video right now, simply don’t. Instead, wait until the time is right for you. Or search the Internet, ask other authors, or read books about other ways to market that you’re comfortable with. The only “wrong way” to promote your work is not to promote it at all. And the only “wrong time” to promote your work is to never promote it. Your story deserves to be heard.
Large publishers contractually require artisans to do press junkets and interviews. This is our grass roots version of that... without requiring it. There is no deadline to turn in videos. We will be hosting an on-going digital Feast of Words into the foreseeable future.
* * *
What is an Active Artisan? Last week we talk about how the Board of Directors will be watching artisan activity to determine how to allocate marketing funds for each of our four divisions. Three artisans emailed and asked for more information. Let’s do that:
There are nine people who sit on the Blue Legacy Board of Directors. The four DiMarcos and five industry professionals in the four mediums we work in. Every two years, those five people change. Our next directors are being considered now and will be announced in September of this year. Two of the current board members will be watching artisan activities to determine how to allocate marketing funds across the four divisions. They more active a division is overall, the more funds the division will be awarded. They will be looking for:
Do artisans email their division manager and ask questions to stay in the loop?
What kind of social media presence and attitude do the artisans share with the world?
Do artisans post and comment on Blue Forge content?
Do artisans participate in digital online events like the Feast of Words or film premieres?
Do they watch and comment on Hello Monday (the video or the blog)?
Do they have author pages or accounts on social media? Blogs? Vlogs?
If an author, did they send in an author introduction video for the Blue Forge Press website?
Do they have a website of their own?
Do they post Amazon links to their work on social media?
Do they engage with their fans on social media?
When safe, are they searching out and participating in events in their local community where they sell their work?
How else are they networking?
Active artisans need paid promotion to back up their actions and allocating more funds to divisions with more active artisans is something we DiMarcos have wanted for a long time. Hard work should be rewarded.
Also, we know from experience that if an artisan isn’t active, there is very little we can do to create interest and passion about their work. No one wants to hear the opinion of the publisher or studio – they want to hear from the creator. The creator is an artist. The publisher or studio is seen as a business.
Starting next week, we’ll be adding one topic to each Hello Monday that discusses social media and marketing. We’re going to focus on one platform per week so that artisans won’t be overwhelmed. And if even one a week is overwhelming, just ignore those topics for now and come back to them when you’re ready.
* * *
That’s all the news for this week. If you have questions or would like us to cover something next Monday, please don’t hesitate to write to us at email@example.com or post a comment below.
And remember: Monday doesn’t have to be a day you dread. Monday can be the first day in the best creative week of your life.