Earlier in my career, I worked as an animator and a designer for years. I found that I was constantly struggling with aspects of it, mostly concentrating on working in front of the computer for 8-12 hours at a time. I was starting to get carpal tunnel in my wrists. I also found myself just looking for any opportunity to talk to people and connect. I would just stop working and talk to the people next to me. Luckily, at that time, we often had to “render” our video footage, which was a time consuming process which locked the computer up, so it could turn your timeline of animations into a video file, allowing you to check your progress. This allowed for frequent breaks and time for ping pong games and chit chat.
About 13 years ago, I started my own business. It was a design and animation studio. I concentrated on a mix of interactive development, animation and video graphics. I was developing my own properties and characters. I had a steady client with VH1. At the same time I was studying psychology and spirituality at a school in New York City called the Helix Training Program.
I found myself taking long lunches instead of working. Even though the dream of having my own company and working on my own creations was something I wanted for many years, as it was happening I wasn’t in love with it. The reality of it was far different than what I had in my mind. I yearned for human contact and I had a lot of trouble staying on track. A classmate of mine had an apartment in the building my studio was located and it was all too easy to meet him for coffee, or happy hour, or just talk accompany him while he took his dog for a walk.
Part of the studying I was doing with the Helix Training Program required that I was in therapy. The therapist I was working with diagnosed me with ADHD. As I learned and read about it, I realized how true it was. I was capable of deep focus for short amounts of time but I was easily distracted and often would go down a rabbit hole and not remember what I was supposed to be working on and I had a difficult time getting back on track. I had a small shop and I was just getting off the ground so more often than not, I was the only person there.
In 2008, the market crashed and my wife left the workforce to care for our newborn. I was faced with a number of issues, a huge amount of business debt, a terrible business market and a family to support. I was luckily able to find myself a job which was billed as an interactive flash developer but ended up me managing a large application development, teaching C++ developers how to work in flash and managing a team of developers and artists. This required me to dig deep inside myself.
While running my own company, my wife showed me how to use Microsoft project. I had to learn how to write scopes of work and budget for the work I was doing. These skills I had to develop running my own business, I wasn’t just designing and animating, I was writing contracts, making timelines, responding to proposals, and managing a team. I didn’t quite realize that at the time, but walking into the company and learning for the first time what officially was the thought process behind production management was very interesting to me.
Instead of spending 8-12 hours a day in front of the computer, I was spending smaller chunks of time and then meeting with the teams, having standups and leading the team. I was checking in on people’s progress and helping everyone connect the dots.
This work environment was well suited to my ADHD. I learned task management techniques and I quickly applied them to my job to help me stay on task and communicate with the teams what needed to happen when. I thrived in a chaotic environment because I was able to react quickly and eventually create process around how things worked and what needed to happen.
What happened next was that company folded. That’s a story unto itself but as people were getting laid off I reached out to my network of people and I was able to get a position at an interactive production company as a producer. I was quickly promoted to senior producer and get even deeper technical production chops for working on additional applications and large enterprise site builds. As the market stabilized, I started to freelance again and for the first time I was getting calls from world class advertising agencies and was seeing a pathway of success that I didn’t have as a designer or an animator.
Some people wonder why I would chose to be a Producer rather than a creative, especially since I have such a creative background. Although I love to draw and create, I didn’t love to do it for other people. I often found myself resentful around the choices my clients were making. It wasn’t bringing me peace and love. It was making me feel terrible both emotionally and physically, which is very often one in the same.
I also didn’t have the disposition for it. I was too easily distracted and found it difficult to focus on doing one thing over and over again. I liked working with multiple people on a single task. I once took the Myers Briggs vocational testing and i scored very high and related very well with being a Bus Driver. I look at projects being the bus I drive and I am able to navigate it through different territories while I pick up the user experience team, the creative team and the development team. All the while making sure we still have the budget for gas and working with the account team to make sure we are heading in the right direction.
The attempt to map the inner workings of my mind, became quite an adventure.
I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Nick Purpora (the owner) of JHU Books, a fantastic store in New York City. We discuss the comic book business, what makes a great comic book store and some tales of some classic comics.
I’ve recently been asked to contribute to a great new blog called “Nerdgoblin” – its a hub of all things nerdy and gobliny. Please read my first contribution about my current feelings about the state of modern comics and storytelling.
I review a Star Trek novel called Star Trek DS9: Sacraments of Fire. The novel is a fun read but its reads like picking up in the middle of a season of the show. Check it out here at Nerdgoblin –
On the last Spring of 2013, Samsung SSIC group reached out to RFI to help the prepare a site for a press conference they were doing in June. The SSIC group of Samsung is responsible for the innovative development of new products. Products that will not see be in the market for 2-3 years. The highly sensitive materials needed to be packaged for the purpose of attracting new recruits, partners in the medical wearable vertical and companies looking for venture capital. The site needed a crisp innovative design which helped promote Samsung as a leader in the innovation space.
In the Fall of 2013, I started working at Ruder Finn Interactive. My first assignment was to work on an aggressive site launch for the Technology arm of MetLife. MetLife works with RuderFinn on establishing themselves as a progressive technology group.
RFI was responsible for developing an external facing site with the propose of recruiting developers as we as a internal site for team communication, integrating SiteCore functionality for team use and boosting employee engagement with a photo-challenge.
In the Fall of 2012, 360i merged with Denstu North America and we began working on the enterprise development for Toyota Corporate Site. A large endeavor with multiple teams of stakeholders, we first reskinned the existing site, injected new CSS into the existing site to meet the relaunch of the Toyota Sales site. In conjunction, 360i developed a new User Experience, based on what was established on the Toyota Sales Site. We followed the traditional software development cycle for the beginning of the project, but then moved to a more agile approach once the general ux and design was signed off on. I was the production lead, working closely with the account team, user experience developers, technical director, creative director, copywriters and managing multiple producers.
Once the development started, we moved into a more agile production method, developing each section as content was being written, designed and approved. The entire project took over a year to produce and at times included more than 20 team members.
In the summer of 2012, I produced The Great American Bacon Barter. We sent a man across country with 2000 pounds of bacon. He had no currency, no credit cards, no cash – only bacon. He used twitter to find places to stay and crazy activities. We sent a video crew out to tape the whole thing. The results were a huge success. The results: Over 330 million earned impressions.
My role in this project was as Senior Digital Producer, running to production, managing the road team, setting up internal and client reviews, interfacing with the legal teams, creating the scope and the SOW and generally keeping it together.
* CLIO Awards (Shortlist) – Social Media
* SABRE Awards – Food & Beverage – Gold
* New York Festivals – PR/Social Media – World Silver Medal
* One Show Interactive – Merit Award
* New York Festivals – Community Apps – Shortlist
* Shorty Awards – Best Use of Social Media In Real Life – Finalist
* Digiday Awards – Best Branding Campaign – Finalist
Here’s some of the press:
Ad Week – Top Ten Commercials of the week
Creativity Online – Oscar Mayer: Bacon Barter
New York Times Blog: Media Decoder
Mashable – Man Drives Across USA, Only Uses Bacon As Currency
Huffington Post: Bacon Barter: Oscar Mayer Campaign Has Actor Josh Sankey Using Only Pork As Currency
SF Weekly – Man Travels Across Country with No Money, Only Bacon
Check out the recap video here: The Great American Bacon Barter
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