Archive for the ‘Career Changers TV’ Category

Deadlines and Routines

August 6th, 2014
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PROGRAM ALERT: The new August episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., 7:30 PM on channel 12/high def 1012, and will feature the Pacific Aviation Museum -- plus a profile of Burl Burlingame, the former newspaper writer, who is also a book author, musician and now works as curator at the museum. There's also a preview of their upcoming Biggest Little Airshow on Aug. 16 and 17 at Ford Island! For daily viewing times, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV.

In my last blog post, I mentioned I'm a finalist in a national screenwriting competition that required the top 10 entries to complete a new script in about two months. Screenplays for feature movies average around 100 to 120 pages with each page representing about one minute of screen time. So cranking out 10-15 pages per week is pretty doable for most writers. The challenge though is writing good pages that will survive the inevitable edits, cuts, and rewriting that comes with producing a workable script. If you're writing a novel, you can wax poetic, spend time inside your characters' heads, describe locations in detail right down to the blades of grass or hue of the sky. Not so in screenplays, which have to move fast since Hollywood readers often make up their minds on whether they will read the script after just one or two pages. By page 10, many have already decided if it's a "pass" or "consider."

So I was churning out pages the first month, and thought they were pretty good. Except my story coach would pick apart scenes and prod me to develop the characters more in each of our weekly phone sessions, which is what makes this contest a unique experience for aspiring screenwriters. Script consultants like the one I'm working with charge as much as $75 per hour for their feedback (my sessions are free, courtesy of the contest); notes can range from a couple hundred bucks to a thousand or more. There are so many wannabe screenwriters/directors/filmmakers that a cottage industry has developed in L.A. to tap into that market, which generates 30,000 to 40,000 new scripts that are registered with the Writers Guild each year. Of those, less than five percent will even have a remote chance of being seriously looked at by industry players.

And this contest is one way to get to the top of the wannabes heap... if I win, that is. The problem is I was making up much of my new screenplay as I was going along, while dealing with the demands of producing my TV show and other video projects -- all on deadlines too. Then, after taking in what the story coach criticized or suggested, I'd go back and make changes that improved the script but put me behind schedule. My normal routines were thrown out of whack -- which can be a good thing. Sometimes we get stuck in ruts and do only as much as we're used to doing out of habit. We forget how much we're actually capable of accomplishing, unless we're pressed by outside forces.

With just one week left to turn in the first draft, I was at page 55 -- mid-point -- and had to write another 50 pages in seven days. To begin with, I'm not a fast writer by nature. Some of my prior scripts have taken years to complete or even start because I'd be carrying around ideas for a long time before the story kicked in. Also, I tend to procrastinate unless I'm faced with a deadline... which might be related to my early writing career as a news reporter back in New Jersey. Somewhere along the way, I got into a mindset that my normal routine was to do "x" amount of work per day to be finished on "y" to meet deadline "z" -- it's how I chunk out tasks and allot time to multiple projects I'm usually juggling.

But even for me, the prospect of crafting 50 plus script pages -- actually twice that since I know I'll delete half of what I write -- was daunting. Yet exciting too. Some days I woke at 4 AM to start work. My mind would keep writing even when I stopped to eat or watch TV before going to bed. I wasn't sure what direction the story was going in toward the end, and when I was stuck, my subconscious sometimes provided answers through the characters I had created. Somehow, I got the draft done and submitted it with a couple of hours to spare.

However, that was just the first deadline. A week later, I got back detailed notes from another reader/story analyst as part of the contest steps, and now have until Aug. 16 to turn in the final draft that will be possibly read by an A-list screenwriter and top management company in L.A. The notes were spot on and pinpointed story problems that were largely a result of making stuff up on the fly in the mad dash to the finish line for the first draft.

It's amazing how much we can do when we force ourselves to buckle down and deliver the best work we can do on a shorter timetable. Some people thrive on that kind of pressure. Others can't handle the stress of performing on demand. What's funny is when my wife and I are watching reality shows like Project Runway or Top Chef, there are always one or two competitors who seem so fragile and unable to cope with the time constraints, you wonder why they even wanted to be on the show in the first place! It's like that old saying, if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen -- but if you enjoy competing, seek out opportunities that will bring out the best in yourself.

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To see video segments from past and current Career Changers TV episodes, check out the CCTV YouTube Channel -- now at over half a million views worldwide, and climbing!

Waimea Valley Concert and More

July 18th, 2014
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Just a quick post to let folks know that Waimea Valley's scheduled concert for Sat., July 19 from 1 - 5 pm is still on, rain or shine! Sounds like the tropical storm heading our way will not begin to affect Oahu until tomorrow night, so conditions should be okay on the North Shore. Also, they put up tent canopies on the lawn to provide shade on sunny days, so if there are pop-up showers you'll stay dry.

My wife and I went to the June concert that opened this year's summer series, and it was just wonderful -- great line-up (Jerry Santos, Brother Noland, Led Kaapana), beautiful setting, warm vibes from the mostly-local audience. Even the performers got chicken skin and commented on how it touched them to perform in the valley. They also took note of how good the sound system was. That's another thing I loved about the concert: they talk story in between songs, tying the music into their personal stories of growing up in Hawaii,  the changes they've seen in the islands, and their relationships with other local musicians. You can't get that from listening to a CD or iPod.

There are still tickets available for the Saturday concert, which will feature ukulele virtuosos Eddie Kamae, Imua Garza, Kalei Gamiao and Brittni Paiva. For details, visit www.WaimeaValley.net. For the price, you cannot beat this deal -- well, you could go to a freebie concert in Waikiki, but I doubt you'll get very good seats or have the same kind of atmosphere you will find in Waimea. It's truly a special experience and worth a trip to the North Shore.

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One reason I haven't been blogging of late is I'm on deadline for a screenwriting project. It's tough to break into Hollywood, but there are reputable contests that have launched careers for aspiring writers and directors. Maybe you've seen the new Spielberg sci-fi series, EXTANT, which stars Halle Berry. That script was discovered through an online contest. Another movie in the works, THE DISCIPLE PROGRAM  starring Mark Wahlberg, was written by a guy who won the same contest as the EXTANT creator. Well, I'm one of 10 finalists chosen from about a thousand entries in the latest round of that very same contest (details here), which has a unique twist...

In most screenwriting contests, you submit original scripts in their entirety. But the Industry Insider competition takes a premise from an A-list screenwriter and entrants submit the first 15 pages based on that writer's idea. In my case, the logline/story idea was provided by Sheldon Turner, who wrote one of the X-Men movies and UP IN THE AIR, starring George Clooney (Sheldon's script adaptation was nominated for an Oscar). After I was selected as a finalist, they paired me with a story/script "coach" in L.A., who I consult with each week to go over new pages. The process and feedback has really helped me grow as a writer, while improving the script I've been working on. The first draft is due next Friday, so I've been working overtime to meet that deadline. The winner will be flown out to Hollywood for meetings with Sheldon Turner and a top management firm that reps many successful screenwriters.

It's an exciting opportunity for me as a writer. However, trying to juggle that challenge with my other job producing Career Changers TV and side video projects, has been a reminder of an old adage: Be careful what you wish for!

Now I just have to deliver the goods.

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For daily viewing times and info about the July episode of Career Changers TV, please visit our website. You can also see segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel. Have a great weekend!

 

Perks of the Trade

July 2nd, 2014
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bayview zipline

PROGRAM ALERT: The new July episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., 7:30 PM, July 3 on OC16 (channel 12/high def 1012). For daily viewing times, visit our website. You can also watch segments from past shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel.

One of the fun parts of my job as producer is I get to do stuff I ordinarily wouldn't try... or if I chicken out, I get our host Theresa Tilley to do it. For instance, when we did a story on the Aloha Live cirque type acts, I had her stand between two performers who were flipping bowling pins in front and back of her as she did the intro. Those pins are heavy and could do serious damage if the jugglers were just a tad off on their toss. That was a little hairy.

Two weeks ago, we got to do the Bay View Mini-Putt and Zipline for our July show. I had never been ziplining before, and until recently this was the only one on Oahu. The Kaneohe zipline is about 400 feet, which is short compared to the ones on the Neighbor Islands. But it's a nice rush, and if you've been nervous about trying the big boy versions, this is the perfect way to get a feel for it. Plus, if you're old enough and weigh less than 250 pounds, you can get the kama'aina deal: three rides for $25. Add a round of mini-putt and you can make a day of it for the whole family.

In fact, the owner  -- Kenn Yuen -- has been doing company "family day" parties there, and is offering special discounts if you mention you heard about it through Career Changers TV. However, you should watch the segment because his  personal story tells you a lot about the man. He had to overcome a personal tragedy, then went through a few years of soul searching and career changes. At one time he was a manager for comedian Frank DeLima and musician Dan Ho.

On this month's episode, we have two other interesting stories. Right down the street at Windward City Shopping Center, we shot a segment about the new Massage Envy spa that opened in Kaneohe -- which was necessitated by how quickly the Pearl Highlands Massage Envy grew. The owners, who worked for Wells Fargo financial services on the mainland prior to starting the franchise here, said their Pearl spa was named the 2013 Massage Envy spa of the year -- out of over 900 locations. It's the fastest growing spa in franchise history. They're now planning on adding a third in Kapolei, and are considering other locations on Oahu and the Neighbor Islands. What's more is the co-owners -- Nate McFarland and Lari Jarvis -- are loving life and their new careers in Hawaii.

Oh, and they offered free one-hour body massages to my cameraman, Stanford Chang, and myself to better understand why their spas are doing gangbusters business in the islands. The only problem was the massage relaxed me so much, I had trouble conducting the interview afterwards. Took me awhile to get back into my normal Producer go-go-go mode since we usually do run-and-gun video shoots to save time and cut our production costs.

Rounding out the new show is a piece on the man behind those full page "A Doctor's Confession" ads in the Star-Advertiser. If you subscribe to the print edition, I'm sure you've seen it and possibly were curious about his laser treatments. Prior to filming, Dr. Jeremy Alosa sent me the book he wrote: "The Laser's Edge." And I have a confession to make as well... I was skeptical, but after reading it and seeing all the testimonials from patients who say it gave them relief from pain (mostly related to arthritis) I came away impressed. The Class 4 laser he uses is the same type that professional sports teams have been employing to treat millionaire athletes.

He offered me a free treatment, but I had to run off to another shoot that day. In any event, next time I have a physically strenuous story to do for the show, I know where I can get a nice massage at a good price -- or if Theresa ever gets clocked by an errant bowling pin, perhaps Dr. Alosa's laser therapy can help ease her aches and pains.

 

Posted in Career Changers TV, Entrepreneurs, Inspiration | Comments Off

Cemetery Pupu Theater and More!

June 18th, 2014
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cemetery theater pix

Got plans for the weekend? If not, check out the Cemetery Pupu Theater on Fri., June 20 or Sat., June 21 (also next Friday and Saturday evenings as well). This new production focuses on real life people who practiced medicine in Hawaii during the 1800s and a composite character representing Native Hawaiian small pox victims. You can learn more about this unique Hawaiian Mission Houses program by watching the segment we produced for Career Changers TV (click here).

On Sat., June 21  from 1 to 5 PM, the Waimea Valley Summer Concert series kicks off with a great line-up: Jerry Santos, Brother Noland and Led Kaapana. Here's the commercial we did for them that provides additional details. Worth the drive up to the North Shore!

Speaking of Waimea Valley, they have a couple of other announcements. First, the Proud Peacock restaurant has quietly reopened for dinner on Thursdays through Saturdays 5 to 10 PM, and Sunday brunch between 10 AM and 2 PM. Excerpts from their press release below:

Originally opened in 1976, The Proud Peacock was a popular watering hole amongst the locals. There will be live music every evening and at Sunday’s Brunch. The newly expanded bar boasts a cozy tavern feel, serving up specialty cocktails, draft and bottled beer and a variety of wines to choose from... Newly appointed Chef Andy Dalan has an extensive background in the culinary arts. Winner of the 2011 Ilima Award for “Best New Restaurant” and the 2012 Rice Fest Competition. A graduate of the Kapiolani Community College Culinary Arts program, Chef Andy comes to us with a vast diversity of experience from Marriott, Waikele Clubhouse, and Kapolei Golf Course to Roy’s add a few stints at places such as Formaggio Grill, Café Julia, and Hy’s steakhouse, to the mix and you’ve the makings of a fabulous Chef... Chef Andy has built a menu that includes Prime Rib, fresh fish, and local produce complete with some tantalizing desserts, everyone is sure to enjoy! Reservations are not required. (Parties of 8 or more please inquire at 638-5864). Keep up to date by following us on Facebook or visiting www.waimeavalley.net.

They are also looking for volunteers to help with the Kauhale Restoration Project, which Waimea Valley Executive Director Richard Pezzulo talked about in this segment we did on our February show.

... With the plans completed, and the foundation set for the first two of eight hale that will comprise our Kauhale site, we are looking for volunteer groups that would be interested in participating in our organized workdays to complete this project. We have had participation from WCCC, the Pu’a Foundation and Hina Mauka in the gathering and preparation of the materials used under the tutelage of Uncle Frances Sinenci, our goal is to complete this project by September. If you are interested in participating in this effort please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Athena Sparks at 808-638-5855 to learn more.

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For daily viewing times of this month's show, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV -- and don't forget, you can watch segments from past episodes as well on the CCTV YouTube Channel!

Posted in Career Changers TV, Hawaii food industry | Comments Off

Chinatown Tour - Part 4

June 10th, 2014
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Erdman cover

Took awhile to get to this final installment of my Chinatown tour series, but hopefully, you'll see how it all comes together. At the end of the Honolulu Exposed Red Light tour in mid-May, my wife wanted to pick up a copy of Hawaii Business magazine because an old friend of ours, Dave Erdman, was featured on the cover as their Small Business Person of the Year (click here for that article). Isabel worked with him in marketing at Tropical Rent A Car, back when I moved here in 1985.

Dave co-founded the Direct Response Advertising & Marketing Association of Hawaii (DRAMAH for short) and that's how I met Isabel -- my future wife. The guy I replaced at Oahu Bindery & Direct Mail had been talking to Dave about starting this direct marketing association, so I stepped in for him (Paul Hilker, who became a minister). Dave roped Isabel into it as well since she was assisting him at Tropical, which spawned a bunch of successful entrepreneurs before that company bit the dust. He went on to create the PacRim Marketing Group, which focused on the Japanese visitor market initially. Dave is fluent in Japanese, even though he came from the Philadelphia area. Isabel wound up starting her own small publishing company, which put out the very successful Japanese Guide to Hawaii (eventually sold to Duane Kurisu, who owns a number of Hawaii publications and businesses -- including Hawaii Business magazine). Another Tropical alumnus, Jeff Hendrix went into advertising, and formed his own award-winning agency (Hendrix Miyasaki Shin, which merged with Core Group One).

It was a fun gang to hang out with, especially since Tropical RAC had great company outer island trips because they had a lot of "trade" with travel-related partners and sponsors. I was meeting with Dave and Isabel regularly to plan our DRAMAH seminars, which brought in internationally-respected direct marketing experts through Dave's connections -- primarily his dad, the late great Ken Erdman, who was one of the best direct mail copywriters in the business. Ken's books, articles and seminar talks taught me just about everything I know in regards to copywriting. Plus, our post-DRAMAH meetings pau hana sessions at bars and business mixers Downtown, led to me getting romantically involved with Isabel. So I hold Dave largely responsible for my marriage, now going on 29 years.

DRAMAH was an important and influential development in the local advertising and marketing scene. You had the major ad agencies, smaller marketing/graphics outfits, a few independent consultants, all vying for limited advertising dollars. Direct marketing represented a major shift in thinking from mass "branding" type saturation ads (mainly print and TV commercials) to targeted data-based approaches that emphasized tailored ads and pitches. DM people really were the first to use computers and build databases that could identify markets by key demographics -- right down to income, education levels, interests and so on. Needless to say, traditional Mad Men type ad agency people were skeptical... even resistant to much of what was espoused in our DRAMAH seminars. Why, you ask?

Well, the core tenet of direct response marketing is called A/B testing. To see what message works best, you create alternate ads and in the old days, mailed out test packages to similar sample groups. For big companies, a small test mailing might be 5,000 out of a mailing list that could have hundreds of thousands of subscribers or product buyers... or donors. Ready, fire, aim. You analyze the results, fine tune, test again, and eventually do a roll-out to the entire list. But for traditional ad agencies that spend the bulk of the client's money on big ad buys in the newspaper or on TV, they really can't afford to produce multiple commercials or print ad campaigns and pass that cost along to the client. Instead, they may rely on smaller focus group testing or just present a couple of options to the client and let them guess which will work best.

Now here's where DM enters the modern age. Remember I mentioned donors lists? The man behind some of those early mailing lists, Richard Viguerie, became a major player in politics -- specifically the Republican Party. They were masters at the targeted message and building databases for fundraising, which gave them a huge edge over Democrats until the Obama campaign brought in people who understood A/B marketing. If you were on the Obama email list, you no doubt received a number of donation requests -- each one maybe slightly different in what the headline or subject line said. That's because with today's powerful database tools, they can do instantaneous testing to see which appeals generate the most response simply by tweaking a few words or images. More and more online advertisers are doing the same. And it all began with direct mail.

Anyhow, we couldn't find a single copy of that Hawaii Business magazine with Dave on the cover in Downtown Honolulu! The only magazine shop on Fort Street Mall that had it in their window was closed for the weekend. Longs didn't have it and it was just mid-month. In Kailua, we couldn't find it in Safeway or Foodland either. We had to drive to Ala Moana and get a copy from the Barnes & Noble bookstore there. When my wife used to publish her Japanese visitor guide, she would often check the street racks in Waikiki to make sure they were being kept in stock by her distribution person -- because that's what the advertisers are paying for.

So the business take-away from this simple walkabout in search of a magazine is that you can have the most sophisticated online computer tools at your disposal for market research and advertising... but if you don't get out of the office and check things with your own eyes and ears, chances are you may miss the real reason your business isn't doing better.

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For daily viewing schedules of the new July episode of Career Changers TV, please visit our website. You can also watch segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel, now approaching 350,000 total views for over 200 pieces we've produced. Contact me directly if you're interested in being a sponsor!