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SPARK YOUR SOUL / BRAIN #3!

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Taryn O'NeillHello fellow travelers!

Apologies for being away from Ms in the Biz for a while (but my how it’s flourished! I have read so many great articles). But I’m back, just having finished shooting season 2 of GRANITE FLATS (premieres April 6th!) and getting back to work on a ton of new projects so my brain is abuzz! Thus today I bring you a brand new SPARK YOUR SOUL / BRAIN.  For those of you who are new, this is where I discuss a handful of linked articles and videos that I found both inspirational and educational… and linked in ways not initially apparent:

There is so much wisdom shared on this site pertaining to our careers and our orbits through the entertainment realm that I wanted to start here – with a few articles pertaining to a deal that a clear beacon to where the entertainment business is heading, particularly in relation to new media:

Disney has purchased YouTube MCN (Multi Network Channel) company Maker Studios for $500 Million.  

What does this mean? In broad strokes, it suggests the most powerful company in entertainment (FROZEN just breaks record as highest grossing animated movie of all time, owns Marvel, ABC, and Lucas Films) was looking to pay substantially to gain a foothold in the YouTube ecosystem. It’s no secret that kids consume their content in quick bites on line. As Disney EVP Kevin Mayer put it: “If I’m going to make a bet on the future it’s short form video and younger audiences.” Re/Code (who broke the news), Pando Daily and Tubefilter all crafted interesting articles that anyone in our business should read. Maker is primarily a male skewed MCN aka. Multi Channel Network (Toby Turner, PewDiePie) so it will be interesting to see how Disney’s female skewed audience fits in (or maybe that’s the point?). However, a new deal already hitting the wires is Maker’s partnership with MACY’s department store for the reality fashion competition show called THE NEXT STYLE STAR.  I’m seeing female driven fashion and beauty shows a big money maker on line. Style Haul just hired a wicked smart Paramount exec Mia Goldwyn and YouTube will be buying TV time – yes commercials – to promote the three female lifestyle stars: Michelle Phan, Rosanna Pansino and Bethany Mota. Lots of movement in the New Media space!

(Also, did you know that Robert Downey Jr.’s company Downey Ventures is one of the investors in Maker?)

How does this make you think about the work in new media/ web series that you are currently doing? The only short form videos I watch online are science or inspiration related, and the only new media content that I have worked on is scripted fiction. But then again, I am not of the age demographic that only consumes it’s content online. I’m one of ‘the olds’ now.

But speaking of short form video of the fictional narrative kind – the dream of many, if not most filmmakers, is to get their film into The Sundance Film Festival. Not many have the finances to facilitate a full length feature, but a short film is often doable. I’ve even heard from a few filmmaker friends that they are stepping back from webseries to return to their film roots and the festival circuit it offers (short films are eligible for Academy Awards). So what is hitting? Here are 15 shorts that were official selections of Sundance.  They are a unique bunch and as different from the popular content on Maker as you can get J (And I also insist that you check out this beyond brilliant online short film for the game Human Revolution Deus Ex.)

Speaking of beyond brilliant, I can not wait for Pixar’s next film: INSIDE OUT – where a majority of the story takes place in the BRAIN! It follows the story of a young girl where her emotions are personified as actual characters and examines how they shape her outward journey.  Strangely (as I am a huge neuroscience enthusiast) I only found out about this film because of this phenomenal Fast Company article on one of the creative processes at Pixar.

Do you ever wonder how this studio NEVER seems to falter? It’s weakest performers still make hundreds of millions at the box office. Thanks to an excerpt from CEO Ed Cammut’s upcoming book, we gain a glimpse into their monthly meeting called The Braintrust— in a nutshell it’s the meeting where all the brilliant storytellers affiliated with Pixar (Brad Bird, Andrew Stanton, the author Ed Cammut, Pete Docter, et al) sit around a table and are brutally honest about each other’s work. And then work together to inspire the next best step. Projects have been scrapped, retooled, directors replaced. They admit that EVERY movie Pixar has made started out as a failure, but through the candor and creative trust, they were able to rework and rework again, “until a flawed story finds its through-line, a hollow character finds it soul.” Did you know the entire 3rd act of WALL-E was rewritten because of a note Brad Bird gave Andrew Stanton? For me there were so many important revelations, like how ridiculously important your message and theme is, that problems are easy to identify but the sources are not. And how most of Pixar’s best successes couldn’t be elevator pitched. An old man in a house lifted up with balloons and a boy scout? You’d be escorted off the Warners lot. As a writer/ creator struggling with many projects, reading these stories was so liberating!

This article hits a hot topic of today. FAILURE. – and I have blogged about this before: how we’re always on line – thus in public – with the pressure to produce perfection on the first try. In my course with Tara Sophia Mohr, a lot was discussed in regards to perceived failures. So it seemed serendipitous when I tumbled upon this excellent TED talk from 2011… ON BEING WRONG by Kathleen Shultz

When you were growing up, being the super achiever that you were, did you learn the bad lesson in school that the way to succeed in life is to never make any mistakes, to always get A’s? Yup, me too. I had pretty crazy pressure to ace every test and land every jump (I was a figure skater). When I didn’t, it hurt – either because I would get in trouble from my parents or because falling on the ice actually hurts. There was never power given to the process. There was never a thoughtful moment given to a bad performance, on what I had learned or how I might grow from it. Today, through my own experiences in surviving Hollywood, have learned to be gentle with every rejection aka ‘failture’, as our industry is so fraught with them.  But this talk gave me an even better perspective on them.

Fallor ergo sum. I err therefore I am.  Just watch the darn video already!

So yes, sometimes it takes a long time to achieve your dream, a lot of failure and roadblocks along the way. An incredibly moving example pertains to cosmologists Andrei Linde and Alan Guth. In 1980 and 1986 respectively, they each devised a theory of cosmic inflation (the initial expansion of the universe faster than the speed of light a billionth billionth second after the Big Bang, thought to be responsible for all the stuff’ in our universe) (Linde adjusting Guth’s theory to account for ‘failures.’ ) On March 14th they learned their theories had been proven correct by the detection of gravitational waves by the BICEP2 experiment. Even though it can hurt to wrap your head around all the science, here is a great blog post and video from CalTech Physicist Sean Carroll, and a summarized post from Stanford (part of the research team). And finally, here is the video of Andrei Linde himself who learns the good news on camera. It is beyond moving… a lifetime of work that rested on brilliance, technology, imagination… and a little patience. The moment of success simply captured in an exhale and a joy filled smile shared with his equally brilliant wife and student.

And we come full circle. From a company started by a bunch of indie internet creatives who sell it for $500 million to a man who has changed our understanding of the fabric of our universe because he envisioned it. Leave your legacy. Even if we aren’t astrophysicists, we can create art that speaks and moves, that won’t degrade or bleach – the internet can keep it alive forever. Hopefully one of these articles gave you a little bit of spark to your soul and brain to continue your journey to do so.

Love to hear from you, your thoughts on the articles and the post.

And please check out the new season of my show GRANITE FLATS starting Sunday APRIL 6th at 6pm and 9pm on BYU TV  (Direct TV 374, Dish 9403 and 600 cable providers nation wide). It’s an excited family drama with Cold War intrigue and awesome guest stars like Christopher Lloyd, Cary Elwes, Ivan Sergei and Finola Hughes! I play June Sanders, the wife of town sheriff John Sanders and mother of the lead teen character. And this season I get to sink my teeth into some pretty juicy stuff.

So happy to be back on Ms in the Biz. See you all soon.

Taryn O'Neill

About Taryn O'Neill

TARYN is an actress, writer and new media producer originally from Vancouver, Canada. A competitive figure skater for 12 years, she graduated from Duke University. She has appeared on the TV shows ‘Vegas’, ‘Navy N.C.I.S.’, ‘The Inside’ ‘Lie to Me’ and plays a recurring role on the BYUTV family drama ‘Granite Flats’. She has acted in over 20 webseries (winning Best Supporting Actress at the Indie Soap awards for her work on ‘Compulsions’) as well as producing two series (including the Streamy nominated scifi series ‘After Judgment’.) She added writing to her repertoire after starting a blog in 2009, and in 2010, her first comedy script, “The Very True Adventures of the Madoff Girls,” was a Finalist in the NYTVFest FOX Comedy Pilot Contest. She has since written a full length series for ‘Stan Lee’s World of Heroes’ and has numerous web and tv projects in development, scifi being her genre of choice. In her spare time she studies all things science and trains in martial arts. Her quest to be an onscreen badass was first chronicled at her tumblr Operation BABE (Badass Alien-Fighting Body Endeavor), and has evolved into being a blog about being an inspired badass in all areas of life.