Saturday, August 4, 2012

Tolerance - Walking the Walk

I did something for the first time the other day. I launched a campaign to ask people I know, and some people I don’t know, for money. This is not something that comes naturally to me.

But, it is a good idea.

For the past few years, I have been teaching myself how to be a niche video maker. My niche is educationally-minded stuff that makes a difference. My very first effort was a Photoshop-based project tutorial. Screen captures and voice-overs. That was interesting. I had learned to use Photoshop and wanted to teach others.

Next was a cooking video featuring a woman who made specialty cookies and desserts out of her home kitchen. That was fun. The following year, I created a DVD set for preschoolers, and that went click in my head. This was a use of my talents that I could get behind. I got to plan, shoot, edit, create graphics and do the whole thing. I loved that project and still do. It was called Noodle Boosters and you can still buy a set today.

Since then, I’ve created a few different educational pieces of work for different grade levels, K-12. I like doing this stuff. I’m a big kid at heart and I think kids need stuff that doesn’t talk down to them, but still gets the message across. RU Listening was one of my favorites, a short film about cyber bullying. You can see it on YouTube here.

On weekends, I usually videotape the performances of a local children’s theater for the parents. You meet a lot of great, like-minded people when you volunteer. I highly recommend it. I’ve done a few video projects with the folks who run the theater, and they even appeared in Noodle Boosters as the puppeteers. I’ve met some wonderfully talented kids there as well. Singers, actors and dancers with amazing talent. Kids from 2nd grade right on up through high school. My family has been involved in this particular theater for four or five years now, and we’ve seen little kids grow into some pretty talented young adults.

Even though I’ve acted on stage, I prefer being creative at my desk. Writing, editing, etc. To that end, I wrote a play that is told through different styles of dance. No, I don’t know anything about dance. What I do know, however, is that dance is probably the purest form of human expression. And the young dancers I have met are probably the most dedicated and driven people I know. The physical work involved is second to none, and the mindset needed to make a human body do those things on command is something that I just don’t have. Hence, I have a tremendous respect for it.

So, I wanted to do something that brings together all of my skills, all of my experience and all of my creative friends and do something that will serve up a good message for kids. Such a project needs to move me, awe me and provide a chance to do something worthwhile. Tolerance, respect for the differences in others and a story that can illustrate different styles of dance was the way to go.

Ardor’s Bridge is that play. It’s a story of a young fairy who falls in love with a wood sprite. Their two cultures don’t get along, and these two kids have to figuratively build a bridge between their two families. The fairies are defined by their traditional ballet style. The wood sprites are rougher and more unrefined. These two styles of dance, and a few more, will tell the story.

Of course, I will design the sets, collaborate on the costume design and generally drive everyone crazy with my attention to details. But, the folks I work with are used to me, and while they may roll their eyes and plead with my wife to reign me in, what I say usually goes and gets done.

I usually have a customer lined up for such a project beforehand. This time, I don’t. I believe in this project so much, I decided to take a big risk and put it all on the world of the web. I started a kickstarter project to raise the funds for Ardor’s Bridge. You can find it here

If I reach my goal, we’ll go into auditions and first rehearsals in September. If I don’t reach my goal, the project may die.

I don’t want to do this unless I can do it right. I’ll do as much of the work myself as humanly possible to save on costs. Many of the folks who will be involved will be working gratis or close to it as well. I think we can do it. I think we can raise the money we need. I think it’s important and I think the world will see it that way.
What do you think?

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