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How to Build an Audience, With Lee Schneider

Today, we bring you a veteran creative producer -- learning from his father who was a television executive back when the few networks reigned supreme, Lee Schneider has intense insights from his career in journalism, writing, documentary production, and entrepreneurship. You can find him at his Digital Fundraising School, and he's doing a GiveGetWin deal focused on key insights for creative producers on making high-quality content, building an audience, and earning a living from your art and passion.

How To Build An Audience, insights from Lee Schneider as told to Sebastian Marshall

I started in words even though I was writing for picture. I was a newspaper reporter and writer for TV shows… on TV, I wrote the introductions, intros, and outros.

I wrote for a newspaper in Texas and for A&E. This started teaching me the relationship between words and pictures. I went to writing for local television and Good Morning America. I learned how to write fast and how to write in a big noisy room, and how to write for picture. This is a key thing, the relationship between pictures and words. They get stronger as they relate, words and pictures, and sounds.

That led me to working for news magazines like Dateline NBC and a magazine for Fox, Frontpage. I was producing stories in the 8-10 minute range, and telling a story in that range of time is a very different animal than telling a story in 20 seconds like you would for a news broadcast. That led to longer form stuff; after Dateline NBC, I did Biography for A&E and started my own company doing hour-long documentaries for the Learning Channel, History Channel, and others.

In Defense of "The Last Airbender"

On Where Pianos Roam

Last weekend, I decided to treat myself to a movie and went to see the brand new film "The Last Airbender" (TLA).  I honestly enjoyed it thoroughly and thought it was well done.

Well, a couple of days later, I went on rottentomatoes(dot)com which is a site that collects reviews from film critics all over the country as well as reviews from regular viewers.  It compiles all of the reactions from the film and assigns a numerical grade (0% to 100%) based on all of the responses.  Each film's page also offers quotes from and links to all major reviews of the films.

I was expecting TLA to fair pretty reasonably, but to my astonishment, it has achieved a consistent grade of 8%.  This number is HORRENDOUS by rottentomatoes' and anyone's standards.  I immediately read several of the reviews to find an explanation.  Well, there seems to be a collective lynch mob mentality against the film's director M. Night Shyamalan.  Many of the reviews seem like a personal attack on him rather than against the actual film.  The interesting thing about all of the reviews is that each one finds a different thing to bash about this film.  In one case, it's the acting.  In another it's the writing, and yet, in another it's the overall film itself.  The critics have ripped this movie to shreds and all agree that no sequels should come of it.

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