Topic: Thoughts on Planning a Collaboration: A Brickfilm Christmas Postmortem
I know it's been well over a month since the release of "A Brickfilm Christmas" and although I wanted to do this article sooner, I really needed some time away from it to decompress.
First of all, I want to say a final "thank you" to everyone involved. It was an amazing opportunity to work with some of my favorite brickfilmers, and to get to know a few of you better. I won't mention any names, other than Kristof Fekete Kovacs who was an enormous help in volunteering to do sounds and music, and who was a real professional, and a joy to work with.
The first time I saw the completed film as an audience member was a few days after the official release, I was with a group of friends at one friend's house that I'd never been to. Her husband and son were there, and I thought we were going to watch Princess Bride, and they sneakily put ABC on. It was a good experience, seeing it in a strange house with a few friends and a few strangers, and I was able to see it with fresh eyes, as if someone had put on this random strange video that I'd never seen before. And seeing all the unique and sometimes bizarre segments, I realized how cool it really was, this thing that all of us had done.
Upon the release of the film, quite a few of you mentioned either that you hoped I'd do another collaboration, or that you would like to host a collaboration yourself. I don't intend to do another Christmas collaboration this year, I think it turned out to be a one of a kind thing and can't simply be repeated. I would like to do a collaboration of some sort in the future. I came up with the idea when considering hosting a contest of my own after placing in several last year, as a way to give something back to the community, and when the idea of a mass collaboration came to mind, I felt that was the right way to go in starting something different and cooperative, while still challenging the community to create. To that end, I feel completely grateful for everyone's contributions in the spirit of teamwork, that this was a success in that way.
And now to the main point. I would like to see others start collaborative projects of their own, so I have been wanting to share what I learned throughout the process. Some tips and tricks, dos and don'ts, etc.
1. Get ready to work. You will have to actively pursue people, messaging, encouraging, following up, in some cases nagging. Prepare to do the lion's share of the animation. In my early mentions of the project I referred to "whoever ends up doing the framing part of the story" (just in case) but I knew it would be me. I also knew I'd have to do a story segment (although of course I wanted to) because it's easier to lead by example, and also you can count your own segments in the running list of "how many videos have been submitted" which lead us to...
2. Be positive! Be thrilled! People have donated their work to the project. Use this to get people hyped. Early on there were a lot of people who sounded interested, but were really saying "we'll see where this goes." Each video or commercial that I received (including my own) I would comment in the forums that "we now have three videos and a commercial!" which at the time felt like the half hour goal would never be met, but by keeping that count public and running, it helped the snowball effect of people seeing that this was really happening after all, and motivated more and more people to do their bit.
3. Accept help. One of the biggest lessons I learned from this project was just this. ABC would never have been completed if I'd done it myself, and the temptation to want to control every aspect of production will make sure that you never finish. By accepting help from the community, I not only learned to communicate better and appreciate the abilities of others, we also got a killer logo and theme song!
4. Create realistic deadlines and stick to them... mostly.... I created two deadlines for the stories, one that I told everyone (the end of October) and the hard deadline (secretly) that I would accept them until, which was Thanksgiving weekend. Because I knew everyone was going to miss that first deadline, and regret it, so I could seem really merciful by giving them a second chance to hit what was, in my mind, the real deadline. Now that you are expecting this... the next time I WILL NOT DO THIS AGAIN. For those who knew they couldn't make the first deadline, I could encourage them to do a commercial, which had an even later deadline. I did make a couple exceptions. One was Wammy who really wanted to participate by contributing a commercial and with my original release date, he wouldn't have made it. He talked me into releasing a couple days later, and I didn't regret it because he made good to his word and comlpleted his piece in time and with quality. One of the story segments however (I won't name names because he's a cool dude and a great brickfilmer) convinced me upon the Thanksgiving weekend deadline, that he only needed a couple more hours, and sent me a partial video. As it turned out, I wouldn't see the completed video for another two weeks, so one thing I learned was...
5. If someone misses the deadline, wait for them at your own risk, or move on. You won't be wrong either way. You have enough to worry about. Luckily "this person" came through at the last minute, and I am glad that I did wait, the show wouldn't ahve been the same with out his segment. As I mentioned in caps in the previous paragraph, the next time I do a collaboration (and no, I don't know when that will be) I will be more firm on deadlines.
6. The pros and cons of a seasonal deadline. Knowing it had to be out by Christmas meant that it couldn't be pushed back a few months, a few years, etc. It forced me to keep on top of coordinating everyone and animating my scenes. The drawback of it being Christmas related is that there were a good couple weeks to promote it, and then it wasn't Christmas anymore, making it hard to keep the momentum going. Had it not been a Christmas film, I'd be promoting it still, trying to get it into festivals, etc. Things to think about when planning your collaboration.
7. Finally, what comes after such an involved project? ABC was heavily on my mind throughout October, and was a full time job for most of November and December, which is another thing to consider, commitment-wise, and after it was over, it was time for post-partum. For a couple months, I'd had an extremely well defined purpose. I'd also gotten into the habit of being on discord 24/7, of checking my email 5 times a day, of checking BIM, specifically the PM box. Life was empty with the vocation ended. I removed discord from my phone and laptop a few weeks ago, and just realized today that I haven't been checking that PM box when I go to BIM. The project had become such a huge part of my life, that it felt empty without it, and yet I didn't want to brickfilm for most of January, partially to being very sick for the first couple weeks of it, but also just feeling overwhelmed by the idea of starting another project, possibly too because my ideas have become more and more ambitious over time.
Despite all that, I can't think of a bigger accomplishment or something that I've been more proud to be a part of than this collaboration was, and I will definitely put something like this together again. Except TOTALLY different!
Anyway, I hope there are some nuggets of wisdom, or at least experience, in this for whoever is thinking about doing the next collaboration. For all of you who were involved in ABC, whoever is the first to create a collaboration, I will definitely participate. Heck, make that the first three!
Last edited by thistof (February 9, 2018 (05:06am))