Archive for June, 2013

“Help! My granny is on my Facebook!”

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Tips for when Business, Social Media & Family don’t mix

Social media changed everything. Our work, our relationships, our families.

Family get-togethers that took place a few times a year are now daily occurrences. Uncle Joe’s lurid comments that were once tolerated around the yuletide dinner table aren’t so welcome when they crop up in reply to a Facebook comment by your boss.

This is all new stuff for families to deal with, and while some of us are canny, most of us are not. Social media makes it all too easy to air dirty laundry in public, inadvertently let the skeletons out of the family closet or rekindle old feuds with a quip that the commenter thinks is in private.

For those of us who work in social media or who use it as a tool of our work this is all potentially disastrous. Do I really want my carefully crafted PR campaign brought down by Auntie Maud commenting on her longstanding grudge against Cousin Gertrude? No!

But we’re all human and short of blocking our family members, what can we do?

I believe that education is the key. We must accept that not everyone understands the nature of the newer communication methods. Here are my thoughts on how to approach this if it is a problem for you:

Have the conversation!

Sit them down and talk about it.

Explain that this is your work. It may seem obvious to you, but if they spent the last fifty years going down a coalmine every morning they may not even realise that social media is part of your work.

Explain that the people you communicate with are your co-workers, bosses, business partners or clients. With luck, they may start to behave differently straightaway.

Explain the medium

They may well be using the web but that doesn’t necessarily mean anyone has actually explained it to them.

Many older folks also do not understand that when you share something you aren’t necessarily sending it to them. It’s not that they’re narcissistic or think the world revolves around them, they probably just don’t understand the nature of mass communication as you do. My Mom thanks me for sending her photos every time I share one on Facebook. The difference between sharing something and sending it isn’t necessarily obvious to the octogenarian when a notification pop-up arrives on their iPad.

Explaining that it’s more like publishing something in the newspaper than sending a letter or having a phone call will help to reduce the potential for awkward commentary.

This is particularly important with older relatives.

To many older folks writing a series of Facebook comments really is the modern equivalent of having a phone call. Explain that it isn’t. Facebook comments can be widely seen, easily shared, and are potentially actionable, both in civil and criminal law.

Inappropriate Comments

Explain to Uncle Jim that while he thinks he’s being funny imitating Alf Garnet, those types of comments will offend, and that if the worst came to the worst, Uncle Jim could find himself in prison for making them.

It’s entirely possible that Jim doesn’t know this. Possibly because he can get away with making those comments at Thanksgiving dinner and no one ever spoke up. That doesn’t mean he can say them publicly.  Times have changed and he may not have got the memo. (And you may want to reflect on the pitfalls of holding your tongue before your next family gathering!)

Criticizing Others

People talk about others behind their backs. It happens. But what if they do it on social media?

Often the response is “but so-and-so can’t see your Facebook”. This is where you have to explain that privacy is not guaranteed. What if a friend of so-and-so sees it? Comments are easily shared and screenshotted. Privacy settings can fail. Companies such as Facebook can have faults that show things that we think are hidden.

And the last thing you want to feel about your timeline is that it’s been turned into a minefield of potential problems caused by other people if you change your privacy settings.

Another thing to consider is whether you want to allow your peers seeing your relatives having a spat on Facebook. Will that change how people view you for not handling it better?

If you find you’re spending all your time being a cop on your own Facebook page just because some folks can’t behave, then maybe it’s time to take action. Especially if the miscreants are your family. Your work, your time and your image are important!

Remember the phrase:

“My Facebook. My Rules.”

Sending an email is not the same as sending a letter.

Explain to granny that emails are not like sending a letter.

We take great care writing out the address on an envelope, but an email can easily end up with the wrong person. It may get sent to multiple recipients, be forward or intercepted by strangers.

She may send an email in the heat of the moment or say things that she wouldn’t write on paper. If she understands that actually she always accidentally CCs you in the emails where she’s slagging you off to your sister, maybe she will take more care next time.

Give them a chance to change

Once you’ve had the chat, give them some time. Granddad gets a trial period after the conversation. Watch carefully and be ready to hit the delete key. If they don’t improve then blocking is the best answer.

Remember, you’re not blocking a family member; you’re blocking their account from accessing yours. You don’t let them access your bank account, so how is this any different? There is no reason this should have any impact on your relationship. After all you don’t take your great aunt to work with you, so why should she be included in your social media campaigns and business relationships?

If you have the conversation is a gentle open way then hopefully they will feel comfortable to use social media and you will be spared the discomfort of them sharing your baby pictures with the new client you thought you’d just bagged.

Criticizing You

Another key area to consider is criticism of you. What if the comments are from a relative or friend who criticizes you?  Other people may not notice the comments, or just write them off (after all pretty much all of us have one relative like that!) but those comments will go straight to your heart and slowly but surely zap your confidence.

It’s easy to take those little jibes day in and day out, but what do they do to your self-esteem?? You can work on yourself to reduce the affect the comments have, but by the nature of who they are our families have the ability to wound us, and wound deeply.

Consider blocking that person’s account as a serious option.

Again it doesn’t have to affect your relationship, you’re just choosing to give them less surface area to rub up against you on. Explain that this can even be better for your relationship. You will have more to talk about next time you see them because they won’t know all your news already, and your interaction will be much fresher.

Let’s face it, it’s pretty disappointing when you tell your great-granny you are getting married and she says “I know. I read it on your Facebook.”


I welcome your feedback so please reply. Or you can drop me an email or via Twitter.


Are we collaborating or loafing?

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

An interesting article relevant to collaboration on projects from Lifehacker yesterday prompted an interesting discussion as a result. We are told that we should collaborate … on films, scripts, game development, crowdfunding projects, open source coding.

Collaborate is the continual mantra!

But it’s important to bear in mind that our projects mean the most to us. Others just aren’t as invested as we are. They can let us down.

This is perhaps due to the phenomenon of “Social Loafing” – a tendency that has been demonstrated when individuals pull on a rope less strongly when they believe others are pulling with them. If you’re talking about a project that you want to share the load on it’s important to remember that sharing the project means everyone pulls significantly less than when working alone. This includes you!

And it’s perfectly normal and something we realistically have to expect.

I think the moral of the story is that we should be sure we need to collaborate before we do. Could you perhaps be learning the skills required to do a task that you are about to ask someone else to do for you? At least then you would know how to do it yourself next time.

Food for thought?

My Hero’s Journey to #GFilm

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

DSCF0939I got asked a few times at the Guerilla Filmmakers Masterclass why I attend the class every year. And I can see why new delegates might ask this – surely you do it once and then “zoom!” you’re off making films.

That viewpoint makes sense – it’s a class so why would you want or need to take it again?

My answer is this and it takes you on a little bit of my journey since beginning:

The decision to make films for me represented a massive shift in direction. It was also, through my family’s eyes, completely left-field. Chris advocates taking massive action – which is great and some people can plow through and take all the necessary steps to make a stage 3 film in one long process.

Where are you starting from?  My story…

Massive action is an honest process. You have to be honest about where you are, what you have and what you’re capable of. When I first made the decision in 2009 I wasn’t ready to do it. It was just an empty dream. I hadn’t turned it into either credible goals or manageable steps to achieve it.

In so many ways.

I started by signing up for a masters degree in Screenwriting at Bournemouth University. But no way was I ready to do that. In fact in 2009 I even found it hard to sit in the classroom with 20 strangers for the entire first day. It was too uncomfortably far outside my ordinary world. I was used to working in my office with Adrian. The only other people I would see in a day were my children, who were home educated. We lived in a bubble. Freelancing allows you to do that. It’s a trap and I didn’t realize how much of a trap it was until I tried to step outside the bubble.

I ended up deferring my uni course for a year and undertaking a plan to get myself ready to do things that many other people take for granted: being in the room with other people. In my twelve months preparation I got out more taking screenwriting courses and exercise classes. I had therapy to help me with the social anxiety I had realized had been with me my entire life. I read everything I could about screenwriting, filmmaking and read lots of scripts. I took courses at Raindance and sent my kids to Met Film School with strict instructions to come back and teach me everything they learned.

When I went back to Bournemouth I surprised myself by being able to sit in the classroom and participate in discussions. It was brilliant. I loved my course. My teachers and my classmates were and still are an inspiration to me. I hope they always will be. The people we meet along the journey and collaborate with stay with us. If you’re cynical this is called networking. I call it making friends. For you perhaps that is normal, for me it was wonderful and new, for I had lived almost all my adult life (all my life if I’m honest) in a type of isolation of my own making.  And for me it was a way to step out of my bubble. At least for a few days a year.

My journey takes me to the Guerilla Filmmakers Masterclass and the London Screenwriters Festival every year – to top up those friendships, make new ones, to learn a little bit more. And, lo and behold, each time I find I am that little bit closer.

The Effect on my Family and Friends

By 2011, my decision to become a filmmaker was having a massive effect on my life and who I was, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, this was having an effect on the lives of people around me. I just hadn’t noticed.

Now this is where my journey may start to sound familiar to those of you who haven’t lived as isolated a life as I had:

As you come away from Gfilm with new aspirations, your friends and family will be noticing the difference in you.  And they may not like it. Change breeds insecurity and things that are out of our control create fear. At the start of 2012 my husband, best friend and business partner of 18 years moved out – suddenly and out of the blue. My secure little bubble of existence had popped, leaving the kids and I inexplicably shivering in the real world. A place we hadn’t really been before. So much to learn. So much to overcome.

But we did!

It hurt a lot though and I had a whole new set of problems and heartache to deal with. Attending Gfilm became a lifeline for me, as did the London Screenwriter’s Festival and completing my MA.

But rather than dealing with all this alone, I now had many friends from the filmmaking and screenwriting community to help me get through it. I thank each and every single one of them for the wonderful support they gave. You are all dearer to me than you know. Especially Chris – you see he’s not just a guerilla filmmaking guru, he’s a mentor on the journey. And he’s been a wonderful friend.

My Return with the Elixir

My adventure has certainly taken me some places I didn’t expect. But it’s my path and I will walk it. We each live our own hero’s journey.

For me in 2013, returning with the elixir was returning to GFilm this time with Adrian by my side. After the acrimony of a divorce, him being beside me represents 18 months of heartache, therapy, couples counseling and a shitload of soul-searching.  (All good grist for the writing mill!)

Adrian are both different people now. Life outside the bubble does that – just like in a movie, the characters are forever changed at the end.  But the surprise is we are both better prepared for the filmmaking journey that I am on. And we are back in business, which is great.

Including those I love in my Journey

By attending GFilm with me, Adrian was able to see what it was all about, meet some of my friends and watch me network.

He realized I hadn’t been mad or crazy over the last few years. And that there were in fact lots of people just like me sitting in Tuke Hall.

Best of all, he got to learn from Chris – first hand – the things I’ve been saying about filmmaking. And I watched again as Chris worked his usual magic to plant the filmmaking seeds in all our hearts during the weekend.

And I watched it happen to Adrian.  On Sunday evening he came out blinking into the June sunshine in Regent’s Park, and I could see it in his eyes, that most blessed thing at the end of any story: a call to a new adventure. The start of his own journey into filmmaking.

And that’s a path we can walk together.

The magic worked. Thank you Chris!!

Here’s my advice for new delegates:

  • Do the audit! Do that inventory that Chris suggested. What ARE your strengths? Where ARE your passions? What are your weak spots? And be honest with yourself. That way you are more likely to succeed because you are starting from a firm base.  Even if that base, like mine was, is zero.  Zero is a lot better place to start from than a lie!

    “There’s no point saying there are no weeds in your garden.
    The weeds will take your garden!” – Tony Robbins

  • Who will walk beside you?

    Understand that your family and friends may not understand the change in you as you undertake your journey into filmmaking. Let’s face it, for most people it is kind of odd! Take notice of the feelings of the people in your life. (I didn’t realize the effect my changes were having on the lives of those around me – but that didn’t mean that we weren’t able to get onto the same page in the end!)Talk to them about movies; find out what they like, use their strengths and their interests to include them in your filmmaking. (Consider making a film about your partner’s sports team or your children’s drama production. Let them see the benefits of this new you!!)

    And maybe consider taking those you love along to the next Guerilla Filmmakers Masterclass with you. Who knows, maybe they will catch the bug themselves. Then you not only have moral support – you have a production team!

Have fun with filmmaking. And enjoy the journey!

Thanks for reading. I love feedback so please get in touch or better yet send me a tweet. (If you’re not on Twitter, joining today would be a positive step on your journey!)


Back from Gfilm. And wow!

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Wow! What a weekend at Guerilla Filmmakers Masterclass!!!

Now I’m home and organising my notes. (I keep them  all and they get a little more detailed every year as more of it sinks in a little deeper!) I’m also networking with my friends old and new from GFilm 2013 on Twitter. (New delegates: remember to follow up those contacts! Don’t just get home and forget about it! Opportunity is knocking!)

Update: What I’m up to…

Screenwriting is going well and the filmmaking side of the business is hotting up quickly with several new shorts shooting in the next few months.

As always I am writing articles on a variety of subjects from personal development to new tech and screenwriting, filmmaking and photography. Also researching some long tail projects too.

I am busy preparing for the London Screenwriter’s Festival. I made a commitment last year that this year I will pitch! I am keeping that promise and my friends will keep me to it!  Pitching is a new step for me (although I did get to pitch to Slumdog Millionaire assoc producer Ivanna MacKinnon as part of my MA course and I didn’t die from the experience!)

Setting Goals

All nicely chunk-able, doable steps with measurable success. (So go ahead make your plan!!)

It’s the start of the journey and, as Chris Jones said at Gfilm:

it’s the journey not the destination that counts

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