VIDEO: Nokia’s rescue plan – is it enough?

Will Nokia’s partnership with Microsoft and the launch of Windows Phone Mango revive the communications giant or is this the final roll of the dice?

Jon Reiss: Jennifer Fox’s Reincarnation as an Artist Entrepreneur

I recently had the pleasure to speak with documentary filmmaker Jennifer Fox regarding her latest film My Reincarnation, which opens in New York and Los Angeles on October 28th before screening in theaters worldwide. A comprehensive screenings calendar is available here.

Filmed over 20 years, My Reincarnation is a wonderful film that chronicles the epic story of the high Tibetan Buddhist Master, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, and his western-born son, Yeshi. The film follows Namkhai Norbu’s rise to greatness as a Buddhist teacher in the West, while his son, Yeshi, recognized at birth as the reincarnation of a famous spiritual master, breaks away from his father’s tradition to embrace the modern world. Never before has a high Tibetan Master allowed such complete access to his private life. With her signature intimate entry to both families, Fox expertly distills a decades-long drama into a universal story about love, transformation, and destiny.

According to Fox, My Reincarnation was the most terrifying film to make since her first documentary Beirut: The Last Home Movie. As an avid Buddhist and follower of Chögyal, Jennifer assumed a deep sense of personal responsibility for the project. Although Chögyal never specifically asked Fox to make a film about him, Jennifer felt pressure to deliver something as unique and meaningful as the Buddhist Master’s teachings, philosophy and life. She was terrified by the tremendous responsibility involved in such a film.

Jennifer also found it difficult to raise funds for the film, furthering complicating matters. Apart from contributions from the Hartley Film Foundation and The Buddhist Channel, Fox almost entirely self-funded the 20-year odyssey. When she lost an Italian television deal she had to raise $100,000 to provide My Reincarnation to finish the film — and hope for some money left over to release the movie. She quickly realized that this would have to be a team effort.

Jennifer’s experience self-distributing the documentary Flying: Confessions of a Free Woman was helpful in formulating and executing her crowd funding campaign for My Reincarnation. Not only did Fox use the email lists that her team generated from her theatrical tour of Flying for her My Reincarnation campaign, she also decided to use much of the same distribution team. She has written on Hope for Film about her record breaking experiences using Kickstarter — but I wanted to distill down her experience to the essentials. The main fundamental for her — which drives all of her films is passion. (How else can you finish a film that has taken 20 years to complete).

The fundamental principle behind her successful Kickstarter strategy is simple: A campaign should be a creative act. It is not about getting money from people. It is about involvement. It is about communicating and engaging with fans and taking them with you. Above all, it is about learning to be a more open artist.

5 Lessons Jennifer Learned from the My Reincarnation Campaign:

1. Losing the fear of opening up a project to the public can change the tide of the film.
However, Kickstarter is not right for every project or for every phase of a project. You have to determine whether an audience will be support your film, and whether you have the ability to do what it takes to complete the campaign.

2. Survival as a filmmaker depends on the acceptance of change.
You can’t rest on your laurels but must continue opening up to what’s new. There is a new world of engaging with audiences to fund and release films. The old system of distribution and marketing is largely gone for most filmmakers, and Kickstarter and Indiegogo have revolutionized film finance. Change or die.

3. It is important to partner across generations.
You have to balance wisdom with younger energy and knowledge. Kickstarter solidified the idea that to keep working one must collaborate with younger people. It is interesting how My Reincarnation is

4. Build a team. You can’t do it alone. Having a second or third set of eyes is vital. In fact, you need a team more for distribution and marketing than for the production itself. Jennifer largely shot and edited the film by herself. But she needed a team to help her bring that film out into the public eye — both for fundraising and distribution and marketing. Employing a “Producer of Marketing and Distribution” or PMD” is almost a necessity in today’s filmmaking climate. (A PMD is a new crew position created to help artists connect with audiences and manage the distribution and marketing process.)

5. Campaigns should not be one-dimensional.
They should be multi-platform strategies wherein new ideas, incentives and videos are constantly added and expanded. If you are embarking on this process, ask yourself, ‘What are you giving them? Most campaigns all have the same message: “Give me money.” What motivates your audience to come back to the site and reengage?’ Make sure your pitch stands out from the pack.

In a sense all artists must look at their lives and examine if what they have been doing is working, or perhaps realize as Yeshi did that another path bekons to us — ready to embrace us. As Jennifer points out, making films, and all art for that matter is an act of faith — faith in the process, faith in the potential connection your work will have with other people.

Jon Reiss is filmmaker (Bomb It, Better Living Through Circuitry), author (Think Outside the Box Office) and consultant whose most recent book is Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul which he co-wrote with The Film Collaborative and Sheri Candler. He works with numerous film organizations, film schools and festivals to bring a variety of distribution labs and workshops around the world. His upcoming books concern new models of artistic entrepreneurship and the concept Producer of Marketing and Distribution.

Breast cancer causes foot-in-mouth disease in others

A cancer diagnosis can make those around you say the darndest things. While coping with breast cancer, Diane Mapes has heard it all.

‘Community,’ The Halloween Episode

“Community” Halloween episodes may be the best thing about the holiday. While it seems impossible that the show could top last year’s zombie episode, Dan Harmon’s done it again. With all the referential spookiness you could want, this year’s Halloween “Community” not only excavates all the stereotypes of the season, but also serves to show us why we love each of these characters, and what it is specifically about each of them that makes them necessary for this comedic formula to work out. The recap:

According to the anonymous psych tests Britta administered a while back, someone in the “Community” group has HOMICIDAL TENDENCIES. To figure it out, everyone sits down and tells their best scary story.

“Trick-or-Dean! I had the lights rigged to flicker because it’s Halloween,” says Dean in drag.

Britta starts things off with her story. Britta and Jeff are making out in a car when a hook-handed monster kills her. Even the radio talks the way Britta does.

Abed doesn’t care about the characters and thinks they “lack common sense and basic survival instinct.”

Abed’s tale: A log cabin where Britta is turned on by his logic. “I’m comforted by your shiny hair facial symmetry,” he tells her, before noting that he has just brushed his teeth and thus it is an optimal time to kiss.

They turn on the radio which plays 80s elevator music. Abed hums the entire song.

Rather than check out the possibility of a murderer on the loose, the two stand back to back holding knives, waiting. Waiting.

Harmon uses Abed’s ultra-logical brain and rapid speaking style to pick apart the nonsensical aspects of the horror plot. It works.

Annie’s got a scarier story. It’s basically “Twilight” done as historical romance, with Jeff as the tortured vampire who wants to be bad.

“Be gone innocent one!” says Jeff. He pulls vampire Britta (a “drained and tainted bitch dog”) from the closet to drain her. But wait — “Teach me to read!” he says. Annie does. Jeff-Vampire quotes “King Lear.”

But Jeff is overcome by bloodlust.

“Resist your craving! Pick up a good book and read!” Annie cries out. Then she turns into a werewolf and attacks.

Back in the study room, Annie describes the evisceration, with her destroying Jeff “like a gerbil shredding a Quaker Oats box,” preserving his optic nerve so he can see his partially digested flesh in her stomach. That’s our Annie: Disturbingly gory, preciously romantic.

“Why does Annie get to be good at everything!” Troy says. His turn.

Abed and Troy are captured by evil scientist Troy which gives them ESP and mind powers. They smack him with a pan then cut a ham sandwich and float the halves over to their mouths.

Now, Pierce will go under the knife. When he wakes, his butt is sewn to his chest, giving him boobs he can touch all day. But … his hands have been reversed with his feet!

“No! No! No! Nooooooooo!” he says. We’re treated to Troy acting out the feet-hands, before Pierce cuts in.

In a tricked out 70s cabin, Pierce as Magnum drinks expensive post-coital brandy when Troy and Abed come in for a home invasion. Magnum beats em up! Then he pulls down his zipper and what’s inside punches out Abed.

“I’m ready for my birthday spanking,” says Pierce to his harem.

“That wasn’t even a ghost story. That was like an episode of some show we’re too young to have heard of,” says Troy.

If Troy makes us go, “Awww,” Pierce makes us go, “Huh?” and “Ugh!”

Shirley hates the violence. She wants one about good and evil.

In a grungy room, all the kids drink beer and then pour a bottle of marijuana on their faces, squirming. Outside, swarms of locusts and frogs descend. “It’s like New York out there,” says Britta.

All the good people have been raptured up to heaven. So the Devil, aka the Dean, enters dressed in more drag. There’s pilates in hell! Pilates, a demon that eats your genitals.

Shirley-angel (“our friend we used to pick on for being Christian”) comes in and stops the mayhem. She can’t save them, though, she just wanted to say goodbye on her way to Abraham’s bosom. Re-enter Dean with chainsaw screaming, “Gay marriiiaage!”

The party disbands when Britta forces them to stay so they can figure out who the homicidal maniac is. Britta’s turn: All of the “Community” gang are murdered one by one by a masked figure (Britta is reading “Warren Pece” at the time).

The gang turns on her, taking up their weapons — Shirley has a broken bottle of glass, Troy has pencil hands, Annie has a knife, Pierce has a fire extinguisher.

Jeff decides to get things under control by telling his own story. It’s Christmas and everything is nice when a murderer bursts in — But it’s only Chang, who kills because he’s sad and afraid. Everyone hugs.

“Why are you always so determined to relax and have us put down our weapons!” says Troy.

The psych tests come back after Britta re-runs them (she put them in backwards the first time). They’re all insane, except for one.

“If one of us isn’t crazy, we should probably know who they are,” says Troy.

“Or we could hold onto the comforting notion that one of us might be sane,” says Shirley.

Could be an epitaph for this show.

WATCH: Can You Guess What’s Going To Happen Next?

Now, we usually don’t like to laugh at someone’s expense … but that’s what Rob Dyrdek and co. are doing in this exclusive clip from next week’s episode of MTV’s hit show ‘Ridiculousness’ (Mondays, 10PM ET on MTV).

In this clip we see a skateboarding stunt go very, very wrong. Instead of landing his approximately 12-foot jump, he has one killer landing — and not in a good way. But don’t worry, there’s no blood or broken bones in this one, but this skateboarder probably won’t be able to sit down for a while. Ouch.

I think you get what’s going to happen.

There’s going to be a lot more ‘Ridiculousness’ where this came from because MTV recently renewed Dyrdek’s hit viral video show for a second season.

Check out the exclusive clip below, and tune in to ‘Ridiculousness’ Monday, Oct. 31 at 10PM ET on MTV.


How To Make Your Own (Almost) Chromebook

How To Make Your Own (Almost) Chromebook

This HowTo lays out how to convert a regular netbook/laptop/desktop into an almost Google Chromebook using Hexxeh’s Chromium OS build.  All you need is a 2GB USB stick and a bit of time.  It also makes a nice portable operating system as well.