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  • I’m a Special Guest on the “Unleash Your Blog” Podcast – Listen Now!

    Appearances, Podcast Comments

    On March 27, 2017 • By

     

    Hey everyone! For those of you who don’t know (or maybe don’t follow me on Twitter, where I regularly post about this), I have been an editor/producer of a podcast called Unleash Your Blog, which started last year. Unleash Your Blog is a business podcast that focuses on the blogging world, but really applies to pretty much any online business owner. It’s been a lot of fun working on it and putting out new episodes every week, plus getting to know the host John Meese has been a real treat. Former co-host Danny Coleman is a friend of mine and brought me into the fold to help with this creative project.

    All that to say – Unleash Your Blog is going on hiatus for a number of reasons. But John wanted to close out this run of the podcast with a special episode – which involved bringing me on as a special guest, along with former co-host Danny Coleman! We talk about the many things we’ve learned over the course of creating this show, along with advice to those out there thinking about creating their own podcast. So if you want to hear me ramble on about a number of things, you’re in luck!

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    Follow me on Twitter! @ryanestabrooks

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  • Why I started my own online business

    News, Pixel Powers Comments

    On March 13, 2017 • By

     

    If you haven’t heard the news, I recently started my own online business – Pixel Powers, which you can find by clicking here, or by going to https://pixelpowers.com. With Pixel Powers, I help people by creating custom logo videos or titles for their business, Youtube channel, and beyond. It’s super easy for users to upload their logo, add a video to their cart and checkout – not to mention very affordable.

    But what is a writer/director doing in the online business world? Funny you should ask because just a year ago, I had no idea I would be launching Pixel Powers today. In fact, my path has taken many unexpected turns within the past 2 years alone. I went from making short films to editing documentaries, doing voiceovers, and creating a lot of commercials. Since I was wading into commercial territory, I was kind of forced to learn Apple Motion and Adobe After Effects – programs designed to create animation, motion graphics, and all sorts of crazy audio-visual effects. My skill set was expanded and with that came new opportunities. Word spread throughout my circle and soon enough, I started getting questions about logo videos.

     

    I had friends who needed custom videos – but couldn’t find them online.

    People reached out to me and asked where they could find a good logo video for their YouTube channel or for their online radio show. They had looked everywhere and couldn’t find what they were looking for. I have found this is often a key indicator that a need is not being met in the business world. The first time someone asked me, I considered it to be a one-off request that wouldn’t come around again. Sure enough, more people came to me with the same questions, looking for the same videos. I noticed a trend and the initial idea of Pixel Powers started swirling in my head.

    I did some research and found there are several marketplaces for freelancers to create logo videos – but they’re not very user-friendly. There are often many steps in the process, every freelancer has a different way of working, and some sites require you to post “jobs” for others to bid on. A lot of business owners and entrepreneurs simply don’t have time to mess with that, or perhaps are overwhelmed by the process. 

    So I saw an opportunity here…but did I really want to branch out from writing/directing films to running a business? As a kid, I definitely dreamed of opening shops, restaurants and all sorts of other places, but I always imagined doing it after I “made it big”. So why now?

     

    As a screenwriter/director, it’s always good to have other sources of income.

    When I imagined those things as a kid, my idea of “making it big” was very different than reality. At that time, I thought once you made a successful movie, a studio would snatch you up and give you writing/directing jobs for the rest of your life. Now, granted, back in the 80s and 90s, long term multi-picture deals were more common. But that’s certainly not the case anymore.

    See, one thing they don’t really tell you when you start writing/directing is that you’re kind of a freelancer for your entire career. This is ESPECIALLY true for the screenwriting world; many studios now use 1-step deals, which means you’re only guaranteed to be paid for one single draft. It may take you 4-6 weeks to do that draft and if the studio is done with it, you’re out looking for your next job. Even if you’re hired to write or direct a big movie for several years, the question is always “what will you do when it’s over?”. Or what will you do if the movie takes 7 years to create, as was the case for (the amazing movie) Gravity? All of a sudden, that $250,000 check you cashed doesn’t seem as bountiful when you have to make it last for almost a decade.

    This is why numerous screenwriters and directors start producing projects – it’s another avenue of income to help fill those gaps between jobs. Some writers also have side businesses – John August is a great example. He has put out some amazing writing tools (such as the Writer’s Emergency Pack) along with several different apps and games. It gives him more financial security, even though he’s one of the most famous screenwriters working in this day and age. When I recognized this reality of the film industry, it just makes sense to pursue business opportunities if they’re available.

     

    I just like helping people – period.

    In my life, I have definitely needed to seek help, ask for assistance and receive guidance for many things. So when I have an opportunity to help someone out, I love to return the favor.  I strongly believe that we all stand a better chance of success in life by lifting each other up as much as possible. And I don’t just mean when it comes to film and video, I’m talking about all aspects of our planet. The whole “survival-of-the-fittest”, “me-against-you” thing is past us as a species. I may not be an expert in many things in life (and I really think every person is a “student” from now until the day they die) but if I can help out, I try to take that opportunity. 


    Pixel Powers is uncharted territory for me – exciting territory, truth be told. If you are a marketer, business owner, YouTube host, podcaster, etc. I hope you take a moment to check out Pixel Powers and find a video that can help your brand/name. I hope this also encourages others out there, in all occupations and studies, to take that step of creating your own business, your own platform, your own side hustle outside of your normal work. Not only is it nice to have something that you personally own but you may find that it inspires your traditional work too.

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    Follow me on Twitter! @ryanestabrooks

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  • Top 50 Albums of 2016

    Feature Article, List, Music Comments

    On January 6, 2017 • By

    savages the band live

     

    Well here we are once again – another year passed as we are hurled into the unknown future. 2016 has been an absolute whirlwind for everyone involved, there’s no questioning that. But what’s great is, no matter what challenges we face, no matter how much hope is lost or how bleak certain parts of the future look, we can always depend on great art to be released. And many times, chaos in the world can breed our most beloved works.

    As I look back on 2016, I’ve come to realize that music is probably the art form I consume the most. I am usually working day and night on film projects so I don’t get to catch as many movies as I would like (this is something I want to change in 2017). When I get a few hours free before I go to bed, it’s hard to convince myself to spend it leisurely when I know there is so much work I have left to do. This is also the reason why I don’t get to read too many books, even though I LOVE reading (despite the fact that I’m a bit of a slow reader). But music has a portability that movies and books often don’t. I can take it anywhere, which allows me to soak in sounds no matter what I’m doing. (Yes, I know I could do audiobooks like this too but I’m not a huge audiobook fan. I like highlighting stuff and flipping back and forth)

    This is why I think music is such a bigger part of our lives than many people realize. It’s everywhere you go; it’s all over TV, movies, it’s in grocery stores, clothing shops, restaurants. And speaking of “everywhere you go”, 2016 may be the year where streaming reached its pivotal turning point. Streaming has exploded and I don’t think there’s any going back, for better or worse. The good news is that paid subscriptions have risen a ton within the last year. The bad news is, artists are still paid tiny fractions of what they should be earning. The other bad news is the amount of downloads has decreased considerably. The streaming paradigm says something about our cultural philosophies as a whole – we want access to everything, all the time, everywhere we go. Even if that means not actually owning the songs.

    On some levels, it’s hard to argue against that model strictly speaking from the point of view of the consumer. You pay a monthly fee and get access to millions of songs that you can play wherever you go, as much as you want. And the monthly fee is usually less than the cost of one single album. It’s cheap and convenient – which is what practically every consumer wants. I imagine streaming is only going to get bigger so I hope the royalty rates for artists continue to climb.

    But anywaysssss….enough of that, let’s get to business. As always, I want to make it clear that these are my PERSONAL FAVORITES and I’m not saying these are the undisputed, objectively best albums of 2016. These are MY top albums, plain and simple, that adhere to my musical tastes. The good news is, I have a pretty decent taste in music so no bullshit will be found here – that I can guarantee. And although I put them in a certain order, you must understand that every single one of these albums is fantastic. The number 50 album on this list is better than most of the music I heard last year so please, give every album on this list a chance.

    Here we go!

    50. Holy Wave – Freaks of Nurture
    49. Eureka California – Versus
    48. Seth Bogart – Seth Bogart
    47. Chance the rapper – Coloring Book
    46. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity
    45. Whitney – Light Upon the Lake
    44. Empire of the Sun – Two Vines
    43. Explosions In The Sky – The Wilderness
    42. Deakin – Sleep Cycle
    41. Kendrick Lamar – Untitled Unmastered
    40. Jenny Hval – Blood Bitch
    39. Night Moves – Pennied Days
    38. Porches – Pool
    37. Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker
    36. Young Thug – Jeffrey
    35. Maxwell – blackSUMMER’Snight
    34. Local Natives – Sunlit Youth
    33. ANOHNI – hopelessness
    32. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 3
    31. Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial
    30. Woods – City Sun Eater In The River of Light
    29. of Montreal – Innocence Reaches
    28. MMOTHS – Luneworks
    27. Frightened Rabbit – Painting Of A Panic Attack
    26. Crystal Castles – Amnesty (I)
    25. Julianna Barwick – Will
    24. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Suzanne Ciani – Sunergy
    23. Vince Staples – Prima Donna
    22. White Lung – Paradise
    21. Frank Ocean – Blonde
    20. Angel Olsen – My Woman
    19. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
    18. Schoolboy Q – Blank Face LP
    17. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
    16. Peter, Bjorn and John – Breakin Point
    15. Kevin Morby – Singing Saw
    14. Holy Fuck – Congrats
    13. M83 – Junk
    12. Beyonce – Lemonade
    11. Paul Jebanasam – Continuum
    10. Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
    9. Brandy Clark – Big Day in a Small Town
    8. JEFF the Brotherhood – Zone
    7. Bon Iver – 22, a Million
    6. Solange – A Seat at the Table
    5. The Avalanches – Wildflower
    4. Ra Ra Riot – Need Your Light
    3. Yeasayer – Amen & Goodbye
    2. David Bowie – Blackstar
    1. Savages – Adore Life

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    Follow me on Twitter! @ryanestabrooks

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  • Leo & Zulma’s Wedding – New Photography

    Feature Article, Photography Comments

    On January 2, 2017 • By

    Hey everyone!

    Two of my great friends got married recently &  I took a few shots of them at their wedding. I wanted to share some of my favorite photos of them.

    It gave me a chance to do some experimenting with colors in Lightroom – which has become my new go-to photography editing program. I shot this on digital, which has presented new challenges to me since I’m so used to shooting on medium format film. Instead of trying to get my digital photography to look like my film photography, I’ve been looking at ways to make my digital work have a unique look all to its own. It certainly requires more work but it’s a lot of fun.

    I hope you guys enjoy – and congrats again to Leo & Zulma!

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    Follow me on Twitter! @ryanestabrooks

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  • Enroll in “Write Like Jurassic World”, My New Screenwriting Course

    Screenwriting, Write Like Comments

    On July 11, 2016 • By

    Write Like_Jurassic World

    Hi everyone!

    I have been making films and screenwriting for a long time. A LONG time. Recently, I figured I could help turn my experience into courses on screenwriting. Perhaps other writers out there can enroll in this course and learn things I wish I knew years ago. But I didn’t want to make “just another screenwriting course”; there are dozens of courses already that teach you the basics of screenwriting, from the standard 3-act structure to formatting. I didn’t want to do that because you’ve seen that all before. Not to mention, theory is great but it can be hard to figure out how to apply it to your own writing, especially when you’re JUST starting out.

     

    Write Like_speaking

    My idea was to create a screenwriting series that looks at real, actual movies and dive into the screenwriting mechanics that power them. I think having concrete examples to look at truly helps students learn how writing techniques are applied in the real world. You get to see the theory in action! The first movie I tackle in this series is Jurassic World, which was one of the biggest movies of 2015. I look at everything from the themes that drive the story, individual lessons to be learned from specific scenes, and how the characters serve a specific purpose. But I believe it’s not enough to simply watch it being dissected – you need to apply these lessons yourself within your own work! So I included activities at the end of the lessons to help reinforce what you’ve learned. These activities will force you to think in different ways and apply them yourself so you can soak in these techniques. Knowledge is great, but it also helps to have experience. With this course, you get both!

    Please take a look and enroll if it seems interesting to you! To sweeten the deal, I’m giving out a limited number of 25% off coupons.

    Click here to access the Write Like Jurassic World course at a discounted price!

    And please, let me know what you think! What would you like to see more of? What movies would you like for me to dissect next?

    Thank you and keep writing!

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    Follow me on Twitter! @ryanestabrooks

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