Friday, October 21, 2016

1880 Compliant

I coined the phrase 1880 Compliant or 1880 Compliance to refer to things that will still work, or keep working, if the power grid goes down. "Compliant" as in goes along with or works with, and "1880" because the first commercial power generator went online in about 1881. It's like a shorthand for business continuity without electricity: what happens if the power goes out? What happens if the power stays out? Actors are small businesses. Anything 1880 Compliant is a thing that works whether or not the power is working.

Important deadlines and other things don't care what infrastructure is doing in your area; you either showed up for work, or an audition, or you didn't. You could download the script/sides, or you couldn't. The movie/video/TV show could be watched our it couldn't. The theatre's lights could turn on or they couldn't. Business continuity isn't a major focus for actors (nor should it be) but since the internet today has many sites down, I'm going to write this instead of waiting for them to come back online. I have shared the phrase 1880 Compliant for years, but today I'll commit it to (digital) paper. Seems kind of apt. And ironic (not quite what that word means, but I digress).

Something you or a business does is 1880 Compliant for some amount of time. Books printed on paper are 1880 Compliant forever, books on a digital readers are 1880 Compliant for the life of the battery: they're basically not 1880 Compliant at all or are for only some hours or minutes.

Things that are 1880 Compliant can include:

A paper date book
Unless you lose it, burn it or otherwise physically destroy it, a paper date book will be available, complete and serve its purpose until the paper rots away. It won't care no what the power company does.
A bicycle
If it works today it will likely work tomorrow and the next day. Eventually its maintenance may need things like replacement parts and lubricants, and those need power to be available where you are, but a bike is effectively 1880 Compliant for the foreseeable future.
Talking in person
Face to face conversation doesn't require electricity to happen, and if the people's basic survival needs are met (the modern world requires electricity enabling the technologies that make food and clothes that end up in our presence), they can effectively communicate like this for the rest of their lives.

Things that are _not_ 1880 Compliant could include:

A digital planner
If you can't charge its battery it won't help you know what's next or next week. And if you think an online or home back-up will save you, you are right-ish: those will extend its 1880 Complaint time-frame, and may make your schedule retrievable, but eventually all those 1s and 0s do nothing for you if the power doesn't come back on soon.
A car
You may think "but I don't have an electric car, my car uses gas," and while that can be true, surprisingly almost all gas stations use electrically powered pumps without a petroleum product powered generator as back-up. Despite the distribution and sale of petroleum products being almost the entire business model of a gas station, they depend on the power being on. This means that in many natural disasters people have been left to abandon their cars and walk, even if they are right next to a gas station that has underground storage tanks full of fuel. That fuel is totally out of reach because the power the station's pumps rely on is not available. Remarkably foolish and tragic: this lack of a generator back-up slowed evacuations after the storm surge knocked out power before Hurricane Katrina made landfall.
All communications with screens or microphones involved
Kind of obvious; electrical technology may work during a power outage at first, but eventually telephone and cell phone systems' back-ups will run out of their ability to keep things running if the power grid stays down long term.

As actors, when working on a film or TV set, the production may have brought its own generator and may then be able to keep working without interruption for a time. They may be able to keep filming and "make the day" without the local power grid providing electricity; a set might be 1880 Compliant for some hours. Our work certainly doesn't require electricity to be done, though the systems that capture it and all the people working on the shoot probably will eventually need power from the grid to work well or at all. Plus, if the power went out because of anything that wasn't limited to the power grid (like a storm or other natural disaster) then filming probably stopped for other compelling reasons.

On stage, the show probably won't go on with out the power on; most theatres don't seem to have backup systems to power everything for hours if the power goes out. The light board and sound systems may have backups for their computers, but the lights, lobby and ticketing areas are probably going to go dark and stay dark. Rehearsal might be able to happen, in a park or a space with windows during the day, and auditions maybe could too, but with out the power up, traffic signals and subways probably don't work so getting to a rehearsal or audition might not be possible. A lot of what we do for work doesn't work when the power doesn't.

A corollary I'll mention that I also coined is being 1980 Compliant, meaning working without internet connectivity. The internet wasn't widely adopted until after 1980. Now I'm off to go to an 1880 Compliant in-person meeting ;-).

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Monday, October 17, 2016

David's fight choreography in Peter and the Starcatcher in DC

David co-choreographed the stage combat in
St. Marks Players' Peter and the Starcatcher,
playing through October 22, 2016 in Washington, DC.
tickets: http://bit.ly/petersmp

Peter and the Starcatcher poster image

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Thursday, October 06, 2016

Let's Make a Content!

The world has embraced the word "Content" for much of what we make. But that puts so much emphasis on the container and so much less on the things contained. I am starting to use the word "material" more to myself, to clarify that what we make has value and worth even separated from the container it comes in.

"Material" can be made into stuff. "Content" is bland and emotionally agnostic. My friend Shariq Siddiqui (with whom a conversation today inspired me to actually write out this post, a post that had been tumbling around in my mind for a while now) said, people don't wanna pay for content (even if they'll pay for anything around it). Material makes it sound like...well...material! Maybe we start thinking of our film and TV work as more like material making its way through a digital mill towards the audience. And think of it less like some blank feature-less chunk of content being digitally shipped in uniform shipping-container-like units toward the viewer or user.

But "the medium is the message" rings true in so many instances, so no matter what's said, we all notice the way and place it is being said. But, I connect with the character more than the logos at the start of the show or movie, and I think you do too. That is how we all want it. That is how we expect it to be.

I'm suggesting we don't get bogged down in focusing on the "container," the "pipes," the "screen," or, heaven forbid, the "bucket," and lose sight of the reason those things exist. They were created in the first place to serve content, both to be of service to it and to deliver it. Stories of human life need to be kept somewhere. The people and the stories can live without the containers (ex: live stage performance), but the containers and outlets kind of become pointless without the people and stories.

Not sure we'll find ourselves calling a friend and saying: "let's make a great content!" But whatever we call it, let's make some great things.

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Dependent's Day Release (David is in this movie)

David plays Luke in Dependent's Day (watch it now on iTunes at http://bit.ly/itunesdd) and it starts its theatrical run Friday (tomorrow), October 7, 2016. To celebrate the opening, there will be a red carpet in LA at 6pm, then everyone will cross the street to the movie theatre tosee the film. Details below.

Details:

Red Carpet Pre-Party:
Friday, October 7, 2016
6pm-7:30pm
The Federal Bar (across the street from the theatre)
5303 Lankershim Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 91601
google map

Screening:
Friday, October 7, 2016
7:40pm (note that this is one of the screenings that day,
details on the continuing theatrical run below)
Laemmle Noho 7
5240 Lankershim Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 91601
google map

Limited Theatrical Run:
Laemmle NoHo 7
from October 7-October 13 with showtimes every day at
1pm, 3:10pm, 5:20pm, 7:40pm with Q&A after, 10:15pm
tix now at http://bit.ly/laemmledd

Dependent's Day will be on Video On Demand (VOD)
everywhere in North America on October 18th 2016

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