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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.

The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004) 91 Minutes

On Tsukamoto

Makoto Shinkai's debut feature length film, The Place Promised in Our Early Days is a good anime film. Sadly, I watched it after I have watched Shinkai's masterpiece 5 Centimeters Per Second which I think was a mistake. In order to properly talk about this film, there are a few things that have to be taken into consideration. First of all, it is a debut effort. As his first film, Shinkai did a good job especially considering he not only directed the thing, but he wrote and produced it. He gets major props for that. Something else that needs to be kept in mind is the fact that anime has evolved immensely in the nearly 10 years since this film. One cannot hold it to the same standards of today.

That having been said, I thought Early Days was a brilliant story that simply went on for too long. A lot of the scenery shots could have been shrunk down. Obviously I know what Shinkai was going for here; he absolutely nailed it in his later films, but not in this one. I can't help thinking that he was pressured into making a full 90 minute feature when he really just wanted to keep things short.

As I said, I watched 5 Centimeters before this and that was a big mistake because Makoto Shinkai has matured in his material properly. That just means that he has become better and better as time has gone by. All in all, I don't think Early Days is a bad film, I just feel that it would be better to watch Shinkai's work in the order in which they were made.

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