Sparrow Hall is an immersive storyteller and experience designer. Author of Two Blue Wolves and Nightwork, Hall is known for creating unique narrative experiences through a hybrid of mediums – including literature, music, video, graphic design, handmade artifacts, and web-specific content. He has led branded content development for a variety of global brands, and has chaired thought leadership panels discussing the future of publishing and cross-platform entertainment. Read More >

Teenage Artist, Lorde – Prophesizing an End of Extravagance

  • by Sparrow
  • September 17th, 2013

Lorde

I’m fascinated by this young artist out of New Zealand that goes by the name Lorde. Her sound is a blend of expository songwriting, stripped down hip hop beats and husky, honest-to-goodness soul. If the views on her YouTube videos have anything to say for it, this chick has amassed quite a following on just a handful of songs. You could chalk it up to the quality of the work, but for me it has to do with the message behind the music – something altogether different.

Lorde is one of a new generation of artists that have grown up in a modern day Great Depression. When riches are no longer relevant, when the old measurements have gone extinct, what will the kids dream about next?

A young generation that places less of a focus on material wealth makes the Kanye Wests of the world look like irrelevant dinosaurs.

I don’t know if it has to do with the alignment of the stars (literally – Saturn in Scorpio), meditating on the subtext of The Dark Knight Rises, or just spending too much time with The Law of One, but there’s something in Lordes’ music that makes me feel like I’m reading the tea leaves: A disinterest in celebrity, a disregard for wealth, and an unwillingness to play for the camera – even in her own music video (see “Tennis Court” below – brilliant). There’s a prophecy hidden somewhere in here. Something about this young woman’s presence is telling a larger story about her generation. One that is looking less and less like the images portrayed in the media, but rather far more secretive and compelling, as if the artist were holding a conversation in her head that we were not yet a party to.

Unlike the past, where young people were compelled to amass physical belongings to communicate their story (and simply to know themselves) – “these are the bands I like, this is my style, this is how I spend my money” – today, they craft their identities online. Who they are becomes a digital portrait that can be tweaked, updated, deleted, and exported in any way they see fit. And it’s free, which is a huge bonus seeing as how they’ve grown up in one of the most difficult economies we’ve seen in the past hundred years. If you don’t think these kids have lived through a Great Depression, maybe you should ask them. These young voices remind us that change isn’t on its way, but rather it’s already here. Maybe it hasn’t taken hold on a mass scale yet, but it has taken root, and it’ll be fascinating to see how we transform because of it.

Nexus of Digital Innovation, “Made in NY” Media Center Arrives in Brooklyn

  • by Sparrow
  • September 10th, 2013

An architect's sketch of the IFP "Made in NY" Media Center

An architect's sketch of the IFP "Made in NY" Media Center

In her article “Home Screen” for the Summer 2013 issue of Filmmmaker Magazine, Mary Anderson Casavant takes us inside the IFP “Made in NY” Media Center in DUMBO Brooklyn – due to open October 2013.

I was interviewed for the article, in which I share my thoughts on what it means for New York’s new media community, the challenges the center could face, and how the “Made in NY” Media Center could help establish the business of new media.

Filmmaker Magazine - Summer 2013 Casavant writes “An 18,000-square foot facility at 20 Jay Street in DUMBO, Brooklyn, the Media Center will be an incubator for new artists, entrepreneurs and companies working in software development, mobile, gaming and multiplatform storytelling. It will offer educational classes in media and technology, exhibit work in a gallery and screening room and be a hub for new media in New York’s growing DUMBO district. And, significantly, the center will offer residencies for selected transmedia artists, an opportunity that will give the artists ‘a stamp of approval in quality, as well as access to mentors, classes and angel investors,’ says IFP Executive Director Joana Vincent.”

Below is an outtake from my interview with the team at Filmmaker Magazine. You can read Mary Anderson Casavant’s complete article with a paid digital subscription of Filmmaker Magazine, or on the newsstand.

FM: Is there a real need in the tech and transmedia communities for such a center? How important are physical spaces in an age of digital communication when it comes to the bringing together of artists and technologists?

SH: Some creators may find it helpful, but I don’t think it’s necessary to the work. Operating in the digital space, we’ve made an art of making something out of nothing. Working in our bedrooms, our apartments, a cleaned out corner of the garage. We’re a resourceful bunch. And we’re modular by nature. We collaborate online. We shift. We adapt. If we enter a physical space, we do our work and then we’re gone. I don’t know if we need four permanent walls. Maybe. We might not know what to do with them.

Floor plan of the IFP "Made in NY" Media Center

SH: In terms of networking, I think the Media Center could do a lot. But it would need to be a diverse and exciting environment. I think the biggest, and maybe the most important thing the Media Center could do is serve as a symbol. A stake in the ground. It’s like Silvercup Studios. We’ve always known movies are made in New York, but it wasn’t until you could see that giant building with the words SILVERCUP STUDIOS did people start thinking of New York as a legitimate movie-making city. Places like this show that we mean business.

An architect's sketch of the IFP "Made in NY" Media Center

FM: What potential opportunities does the center offer New York storytellers and technologists, and what are potential pitfalls the IFP might experience in running it?

SH: I think there are a lot of storytellers working in the classic formats of narrative – film, publishing, TV – that are eager to push themselves into the world of new media because of the opportunities it holds. It helps to have something like the Media Center, because it gives people a concrete place to go and immediately start immersing in the culture. That said, I think spaces like this can fall victim to a few things – 1) Being overrun by a sterile corporate ethos 2) Eliciting an obnoxious start-up incubator vibe 3) Being too expensive for artists/entrepreneurs to use on a regular basis.

An architect's sketch of the IFP "Made in NY" Media Center

FM: With so much innovation occurring at the grass roots, fan level, by users unaffiliated with institutions, what do you think the Media Center must do to properly engage a community?

SH: It needs to showcase good work. And compelling stories. Not just new technology and methodologies. It needs to have good taste.

Read Mary Anderson Casavant full article with a paid digital subscription of Filmmaker Magazine >

An architect's sketch of the IFP "Made in NY" Media Center

An architect's sketch of the IFP "Made in NY" Media Center

Other Articles on the “Made in NY” Media Center:

INDIEWIRE: ‘Made in NY’ Media Center by IFP Prepares for October Opening >

FAST COMPANY: How The “Made In Ny” Media Center Will Connect Filmmakers And Entrepreneurs >

Filmmaker Magazine cover image courtesy of Filmmaker Magazine. All other images courtesy of IFP “Made in NY” Media Center and MESH Architectures.

Real Freedom is the Ability to Think and Choose

  • by Sparrow
  • May 14th, 2013

This is Water - David Foster Wallace - 2005 Commencement Speech - The Glossary

“This is Water” by David Foster Wallace / Short film by The Glossary

Commencement speeches usually make me feel like I’m sleeping with my eyes open. Here’s an exception.

This short-film interpretation of David Foster Wallace’s address to the graduating class of Kenyon College in 2005 elegantly reframes the soul-crushing realities of a day-in-day-out work week as an opportunity to think and choose differently – and the promise it holds.

A Roving Gathering For Those Who Create – DIY DAYS 2013 NYC

  • by Sparrow
  • April 23rd, 2013

DIY DAYS NYC 2013

DIY DAYS NYC 2013
Saturday April 27 / The New School / Starting at 9:15 AM

Afterparty
Bar 13 / 13th Street at University Place / 6 PM – 8:30 PM

Helping creators fund, develop, distribute, and sustain their work.
DIY DAYS is a free one-day event where creators from all over the world descend on New York to present their latest discoveries, innovations, and methodologies. This year, I’m helping the team host the afterparty at Bar 13 in Union Square.

DIY DAYS NYC 2013 - Program

You can still register for the conference at www.diydays.com, view the schedule, learn more about the speakers, and even sign up as a volunteer.

Highlights of this year’s DIY DAYS include:

misfit

brianclark

elejansen

petersims

Last year, I contributed to the “Measuring Success – New Methods for Funding, Engaging and Creating” panel with transmedia creative director Nick Braccia, media anthropologist Ele Jansen, and digital strategist Ryan Aynes. Here’s an excerpt form the talk.

When Your Metalhead Brother Makes an Indie Documentary

  • by Sparrow
  • April 17th, 2013

Mistaken for Strangers - Documentary - The National

Looking forward to checking out “Mistaken for Strangers” the opening night film for the Tribeca Film Festival.

The documentary captures The National’s “High Violet” world tour from a rare insider’s point of view – directed by lead singer Matt Berninger’s brother, Tom Berninger, who believes indie rock is “pretentious bullshit.”

Mistaken for Strangers - Documentary - The National
The National lead singer Matt Berninger (left) with filmmaker brother Tom Berninger (right).

Looks hilarious.

Discovering Music That’s Off Your Radar: The New Bandcamp

  • by Sparrow
  • April 15th, 2013

The New Bandcamp

You know when you’re at your friend’s place eating pancakes and he’s playing something off his laptop that’s like this bizarre hybrid of Afrobeat, The XX, and Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and it’s got you all dancing with your shoulders, and you’re like “WTF is this?”

We need more of that.

But you and I both know we’re not hanging out with our musicologist friends 24/7. So where do we get some sweet ass music in the meantime?

Idea: Why not take the music magazine model and combine it with an online store that showcases the work of some of the most innovative off-the-grid music makers?

Good news. Bandcamp just did, and you’re going to like the look of it.

Discover the new Bandcamp >

Transmedia, Hollywood Conference 2013: Spreading Change

  • by Sparrow
  • April 8th, 2013

Transmedia, Hollywood Conference 2013: Spreading Change
Friday, April 12 / UCLA’s James Bridges Theater
Presented by UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, USC School of Cinematic Arts Presents, and the Andrew J. Kuehn Jr. Foundation

Transmedia, Hollywood - UCLA - 2013

What is Transmedia, Hollywood?
A one-day conference for early adopters and next generation thinkers centered around entrepreneurship, cause-based advertising, culture hacking, and philanthropy in the Digital Age.

Why should I spend my day around tanned, hyper-connected undergrads?
Transmedia is what happens when entertainment, branding, advertising, and philanthropy merge into an enormous crime-fighting robot whose sole purpose is to rid the world of inane marketing campaigns and champion the bizarre imaginations of storytellers. Because transmedia properties and campaigns play out over multiple platforms (social, mobile, big screen, tablet, live events), artists, studios, institutions and advertisers can reach larger audiences and monetize their efforts in a multitude of ways. If you’re somehow connected to any one of these industries and you want to have a job in the next 3 years, you probably want to attend this conference.

Will the speakers make me want to slit my wrists?
No, I have a feeling it’ll be a pretty interesting crowd and a solid networking event. The panels will feature a variety of experts – including Henry Jenkins, the Obi-Wan Kenobi of transmedia, United Talent’s digital media hot shot Milana Rabkin, and pop culture hacker Jonathan McIntosh, who’s doing some thought-provoking work around subliminal messaging and the future of participatory media (aka: remixed videos and other cool disruptiveness).

Other participants include:

Alden E. Stoner – Vice President, Social Action Film Campaigns / Participant Media
Rachel Tipograph – Global Digital and Social Media Director / Gap Inc.
Mahyad Tousi – Founder / BoomGen Studios
Katie Elmore Mota – Producer / East Los High
Milana Rabkin – Digital Media Agent / United Talent Agency
Michael Serazio – Author of “Your Ad Here: The Cool Sell of Guerrilla Marketing”
Rob Schuham – CEO / Action Marketing
Katerina Cizek – Filmmaker-in-Residence / National Film Board, Canada

Audio from the conference will be streamed live and used in tandem with backchan.nl and Wesawsit to create an interactive, real-time experience for those unable to attend.

For more information, visit www.transmedia.tft.ucla.edu

Will Convergent Media Pay for that House in Malibu? It Better.

  • by Sparrow
  • March 26th, 2013

What happens when YouTube kitten videos nuzzle up to the next episode of Homeland?

Ari Emanuel / Co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor / On Convergent Media

Talent agent lion Ari Emanuel discusses the shifts and experiments taking place in Hollywood as it works to adopt a new convergent business model – where TV, Film, Social and Gaming combine and conquer.

What I like about Ari Emanuel, the colorful co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor, is that he doesn’t fart around where money is concerned. Clearly, Hollywood needs to shift into a new business model in order to sustain and grow as different forms of media, and distribution channels, continue to intertwine and overlap. And no – no one has found the magic bullet yet. But it’s interviews like these that remind me that the bottom-line business of convergent media isn’t simply being mumbled over by a bunch of bloggers and theorists – that there are actually a handful of shrewd, hungry, and surprisingly innovative people at the top that are trying to get this thing sorted.

This interview with Emanuel from last year’s D10 runs at about an hour, but it’s worth the watch. So go make yourself some coffee, or drink a Red Bull, or do whatever the fuck you need to do, and then go make some motherfucking convergent money.

The Beauty and Enigma of One’s Inspiration

  • by Sparrow
  • March 20th, 2013

Bian Eno - Day 8 - Dunhill

“The big mistake is to just wait for inspiration to happen. It won’t come looking for you. You have to start doing something: you have to build a trap to catch it.” – Brian Eno / Artist & Musician

Dunhill has released a beautiful profile series (and an elegant example of branded content) called “Day 8.” Intimate, understated interviews with a handful of unique souls who challenge our sensibilities and champion imperfection. A mountaineer, an actor, a filmmaker, an Olympic rower – private meditations on why they do what they do.

Day 8 is better than most documentaries I’ve seen, and it just goes to show how marketing, if done right, has the power to transcend. That a brand is not a thing, not a product, but a glimmering representation of our inner selves.

Watch the Brian Eno video here >

See the full series here >