Tag Archives: storytelling

What Life has taught me about Success and Failure

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

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It is the beginning of a brand new month so you know what that means, an opportunity to write new goals, create and build new relationships, and begin a new fresh start. It is hard to believe that summer has come and gone and September was merely a blip within the space time-continum. As we continue to look back at our old summer photographs longing for those late night evenings with such laughter and pleasure upon our face, there is still something within the air during the fall months leading up to December and January that we can all appreciate and enjoy.

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I’ve been reflecting a lot lately about my childhood, as you can tell by this image, life was beautiful. So curious and full of wonderment, happiness was definitely instilled within family life. We were never without, but we also were taught the value of hard work. Things didn’t get handed to us, we were always taught to work hard for what you want.

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We played in sports such as Baseball & Basketball where I learned a lot about being a team player. I always dreaded try-outs. But once I was on a team I enjoyed the game, they were some fun and exciting times especially the year our team got to go to a tournament and we had to travel to a different city. We won some games, we lost some games and as a child losing can be devastating but at the same time preparing you for life.

High School is always a life changing experience, another brave new world we are thrust into that is new exciting adventurous but it can also be very tiresome and stressful part of personal development. Creating a balance of fitting in with everyone but at the same time coming into your own as an individual. I was the type of teenager that blended in with everyone, could get along with pretty much any “group” associated with growing up. You know the stereo types, “The punks” – “The Goths” – “Preps” and “A/V geeks” and the list goes on.

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But I really found my home with these core group of friends, they changed my life a great deal. They embraced the overly eccentric side, and took me in as one of their own. We had the greatest adventures and spent a lot of time together, I will always consider them my second family.

They taught me to embrace one self, to never fear to be different in a world where we are all trying to be the same. They taught me the value of friendship and what it meant to be a friend something I carry with me where ever I go.

Relationships have always been hard for me, but again, we sometimes win some, some times we lose more then what we realize. They always say that its best to cut the cord on a relationship. But as I spent some time reflecting upon the past I realize I’m still in good contact with a majority of individuals that pulled on my heart strings. And even to this date when I see them post pictures of the beautiful life, I can still smile at the memories and emotions they had brought into my life.

Although in high school everything on the surface looked and felt good, normal as normal could be, there is and always will be the dark side. I’ve attempted suicide 4 times, 4 times, I wanted my life to come to a bitter end. Even though by the happy photographs taken, well nurtured environment of friends & family. I just couldn’t bare to go on in those four moments.

Even to this day, I sometimes worry that those emotions will come back in a brief instance and I won’t be able to prevent myself from harm. My only safety net has been taking life day by day and not get too overly stimulated by one or more emotions. I kind of wanted to talk about it some what because we don’t speak openly about it too much. It’s negative, no one wants to hear about it, overall a dreary subject matter. But we all go through bouts of depression. Sometimes those bouts of depression becomes too much for us to handle. I never really talked about it much because I was always so worried what people will think of me afterwards.

Will they say “this guy is mentally unstable” when really we all suffer from different degrees of depression at one point in our lives or another. And we all develop our own way of handling it. For me, there was always this little voice inside my head that told me “You’re not done yet”. As if there was a higher calling in my life, there was purpose for me, still unfolding as we speak and don’t give up the fight just yet. But for others it might not be the same, perhaps they keep all their emotions bottled up inside and have no where to turn because of the fear of rejection and feeling different from everyone else.

When they should be able to have that courage to speak out, to share their pain with others and have that acceptance. Its okay to feel what you feel and no matter what, as long as you have the courage to make it through to the next day you can win over these temptations.

I also believe being completely immersed as an artist we feel deeply connected to the world around us. It wasn’t until I took a personality test where I found out why I am the way that I am. I have an ENFJ personality type. Also known as “The Giver” – Extraverted Feeling with Introverted Intuition. If you are reading this blog and know me very well you’ll notice the similarities.

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Dreams has also been a constant theme within my life, when I was a child I always wanted to be an animator, I loved animation. Bringing life on screen that was once only an image in your head has been the ultimate goal. Story telling at its finest. I use to LOVE watching Bugs Bunny and Tweety show, Dark Wing Duck, Batman, Gummy Bears, Duck Tales and the list goes on and on.

Those where the days where a lot of values were embedded into my brain. Where stories had a moral to it and was written like a life lesson and not just for the shear entertainment of it.

From there I found myself completely in love with the storytelling in Films.

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Tim Burton being my all time favourite director for style.

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George Lucas for his constant pushing the boundaries with how Technology & Storytelling interact with each other.

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Steven Spielberg for his child like curiosity

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James Cameron for his drive and ability to constantly push Innovation within Filmmaking.

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And finally Francis Ford Coppola with his over-the-top personality combine with a passion and drive to change how we look at films.

We see these people as highly successful individuals, but, if you ever taken a look at their past it was riddle with failure. Failure caused by a lack of understanding, a lack of being open to new possibilities within their field.

If you haven’t watched this documentary made about American Zoetrope and their beginnings, do so! It has always been a great source of inspiration to see some of the greatest filmmakers of our generation deal with personal struggles. Dealing with Studios that have been creating films a certain way for decades, and losing money in the box office because the audience was looking for something different.

And in walks Francis and his team at American Zoetrope who wanted to be that change and understood where the future of filmmaking was headed. Which had less to do with spending a lot of money to pay the same core actors seen in the same style of films.

But the future of filmmaking was story driven, dealing with issues that were current with their times, being bold and embracing the culture that will transform a nation.

This is how I feel about Television and the Web, as we move forward in the future, it becomes less about the money and more about getting the story ideas we have inside our head, that is just itching to be released upon the world. A great story does not come from the seeds of money, a true storyteller will always be driven by the heart of the individual. Anyone can get paid to do a job, but it takes real courage and sense of passion to tell a story from the soul.

And as SLR cameras come down in price year after year making tools of the trade becoming more and more accessible I predict there will be more and more future generation of storytellers picking up their camera and sharing their ideas with the rest of the world. Which is exciting to see how many awesome projects are on the go.

Human Stories is one in particular, where you can see the passion and creativity is instilled within each one of their videos. Driven by sharing the lives of people that have touched them and not by how do we make a living off of this.

And it’s funny, it feels like just yesterday I was sitting in high school sharing my passion for the educational process to get where I am today and having one of my teachers tell me “If you goto Mohawk, all you’ll end up doing is creating safety tapes at Defacso” – Boy, wasn’t he further from the truth! I kept my spirits high not letting his negative remark get to me.

Even when I failed to get into the Television Broadcasting due to my grades being just below what I needed to have them be, but, I still remained persistent with my vision. I dropped out twice from general-arts and science knowing it wasn’t where I wanted to be. It wasn’t until Pre-Media program was developed where I found my true calling, and found myself the next wave a life changing friendships.

When everything was all said and done, I was in the right place and at the right time with the right core group of friends. I might have been late in game graduating from Television program when I was probably 26’ish but it would prove to be more valuable that I never was accepted before hand, as Mohawk was just in the transforming period of switching their studio to HD.

Being exposed to brand new technology that would change the way we watch Television and share our stories created a peace of mind that I am currently on the right path.

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Graduating might not seem like much to some, but education is very important to me. And going through so much struggle just to finish and see my vision come true gave power and testament to my persistence in life.

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Before I begin my last few points I really wanted to take the time say thank you for reading up until this point, I hope it gave you more of a window into the mind of one creative to another. And even more so, one human to another.

And while trying to maintain a decent public image, I value transparency, using this blog as my portal to express certain aspects of navigating through living ones life. And if my words and views expressed has the ability to inspire or create a relatable emotion or deep sense of connection within the reader I’ll do it. After all, we are not robots, we are human.

The last two years of my life have been one of great stress and pain on my soul. After spending two years working in an environment that I loved to be in. The economic powers that be could no longer support me. Being laid off was very hard to handle, I never went through that before, I’ve quit a job, leaving on my own terms. But never laid off.

The emotion was strange, you can’t help but personalize it, thoughts run through your head like “If only I did this” or “If only I pushed more to stay on top”. But truthfully no one can for see the future as much as you plan for sustainability in a business, as technology rapidly changes, things are being outsourced every single day. It becomes difficult to predict anything at all anymore.

Having lost the job I loved to go to my depression towards life started to come back to me, I had this overwhelming feeling of self-doubt in my abilities. Not to mention I just turn 30 this past year, your next thought is “Now what?” – A normal person would have picked up the pieces right away, Bills needed to be paid and life does go on. However I took a different approach by spending an entire year on E.I while I sort through the catalogue of emotions one goes through after a loss.

It was probably one of the most liberating experiences I’ve ever went through in life. I know people have a distaste for individuals sit on E.I while, you, a hard working employee bust your ass off so I could stay at home and think things through. But keep in mind I’ve probably been working since I was 9, I put the same amount of money as you do.

So I never felt guilty about staying on it for as long as I did as that is what it’s there for, to create safety net when times become tough.

On top of all of this, I lost a part of myself, a dear friend of mine who has been a great supportive individual in my life had a falling out.

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I felt crushed, not that it happen, but that I let it happen. That I let my anger and disappointment get the better of me to the point that I took my frustration out on the rest of the world. I felt completely lost, alone, and probably the worse feeling of despair that I ever felt in my entire life.

And because of my inability to express my emotions in a constructive manner, I destroyed the one thing that matter to me the most was the bond between two friends.

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If I regret one thing, it’s letting my emotions at the time get the better of me and losing 2 years together. Two years that we’ll never get back and that makes me sad.

So why put all of this out there, what is the point you ask? You will fail at one point or another in every aspect of life. You will undergo personal struggles every single day you decide to be in this world.
But you will also succeed, you will feel joy like you never felt joy before.

And there is someone out there, that is going through a similar instance, your problems are not just your own and can / should be free to connect with those people. Life cannot exist without death, Happiness can not exist without sadness. We wouldn’t know what love is without having the friendships there for the foundation of life.

Don’t ever be afraid to be human, even it means sharing your weaknesses, for with out weakness we wouldn’t know our strengths.

– Stay Legendary and always true to one self.
Michael.

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The Universe is Your Stage so we Ignite our Souls

Sunday September 22nd 2013, I experienced something I don’t think my mind will ever let me forget.

I always wanted to attend a Poetry Slam, and, it has been increasingly been on my brain over the last year to go to one. However, between other obligations and just life in general prevented me, until this night, September 22nd 2013.

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A little back story on poetry and I, I use to write a lot of poems when I was in High School. In fact I became involved in a poetry community where I would post some of my latest work on a board and got some pretty amazing feedback from it. As I grew older I simply stopped. Periodically, I would write, but not as much as I did before. I went through a very troubling time, where I just hated anything artistically & creatively I had done. And as I grew more and more depressed realizing I was not like everyone else… in a fit of rage I tore all my work into pieces and threw away almost 10 years worth of emotions in a single evening.

I would eventually regret my decision to do so, realizing I should have not turn my back on the one thing that eventually would mean everything to me.

Sunday September 22nd, 2013 I attended the Hamilton HYP Poetry Slam, held at Baltimore House. I knew, I just knew I was going to be writing about tonight, and probably a majority of individuals probably won’t be able to begin to understand but I do hope it makes some sort of sense to people reading this.

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First off, I will begin by saying that all of the poets involved in the Open-Mic & Poetry Slam were absolutely amazing. Not just because their poetry was amazing, just to go up in front of that microphone regardless of the poetry reading themselves, displays a lot of courage. Public speaking is the most well known fear and phobia a individual can experience, people would rather die then get up and speak thats how bad it is. So for those individuals that got up on stage on that faithful night of Sunday September 22nd 2013 at Baltimore House Cafe, I applaud you, for that.

Secondly, aside from getting up on stage in front of an audience, pouring something you have written about your emotions. Deep feelings of sadness or thoughts & views on society, in a world where we are only taught to think and feel a certain way and if your views don’t mesh with everyone else you’re considered an outcast… but you, you stood up for what you believe in, spoke your mind, through rhythm and rhyme and told your story… is a source of inspiration for others.

Finally, the energy level that came shining through, the sense of passion displayed within every single word you spoke and breathe you took to let the emotions settle, took my breathe away. I could feel my heart beating faster with each line you read upon that stage, may you make note, words do truly effect us all.

But my experience did not stop there, what came during each of the readings I can not begin to put into words. There were times during each one of those readings, where my eyes would focus and re-focus between the poet and the backdrop of the stage at Baltimore House. And I kid you not, as it defocused upon the backdrop I saw your true self upon that stage. The beautiful most immaculate souls these eyes ever did see.

I saw the fiery courage within the voices, the power and strength of an individual, in which, one would only assume was weak just at a glance. I saw the beauty within a person and the confidence of a warrior ready to do battle. It was right then and there I knew I was meant to attend this amazing event. To experience what I experience and share what I saw with others.

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You see most people go through their entire lives not knowing who they truly are. They get trapped in this idea or vision of who they think other people believe them to be. But when you embrace something so pure as what I saw that night, you can not hide the beauty of your soul.

We grasp on to ideals and adopt them as our own, listening to what society tells us through media and pop culture that this is the ideal lifestyle you want to live. That you should look like this or that. You should run with this crowd because they are the most popular. And we believe in it, we believe in it so strongly we stop at nothing to fit in and we lose ourselves in it.

We deny our true self, but, if we only pursue and listen to our hearts you know it is not who we were meant to be. We end up feeling empty inside, so we fill our lives with meaningless objects & drama that creates stress in our lives, so much so, we caught off our ability to breathe. And all the things we think we want in our lives end up owning us, instead of us owning life.

And all of a sudden we are working just to maintain this lifestyle, but if only we gave ourselves more and surrendered it to the will of the universe, our inner spirit, will we then become whole again. And with that, that is the true meaning of life and that is what I saw up on stage that faithful Sunday night.

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Filed under Hamilton, Poetry

A Journey of 1000 footsteps

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao-tzu

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This past weekend was filled with the wondrous gift of friendship and insight, followed by the gift of giving, and, that gift was then given back to me with a warm feeling of admiration and love. With the icing on the cake, Sunday being a day of knowledge and self-reflection. I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend in my entire life.

And as Sunday drew to a close I concluded with writing in the final page of my journal I’ve kept for the last year. I’ve kept a written journal of my thoughts since I’ve been in high school. Close to more than a decade of thoughts written in books, it’s been a great source of inspiration to me to go back and see how much personal development has occurred within the span of 10 years, yet alone the last year, which, has been proven to be a year with the most highs and lows in my entire life.

I’m not 100 percent sure what in my life possessed me to keep writing a journal for so long, but I was reading the biography of Benjamin Franklin, and it seemed less “childish” to keep a journal of your thoughts. Ben wrote about his daily activities, experiments and other parts of his life as did Da Vinci, I believe its a great way to monitor personal growth and can be a great source of inspiration for future generations to come one day. I’m glad that I did and continue to do so, never know when they will come in handy.

It’s also great to see how life is full of highs and lows. I can smile to see how excited I was during certain high points in my life and learn how much emotional strength was created by working through my low points. And just how long did it take me to bounce back each time a low point occurred, and how did I do so and to whom was I with during a time of need.

I’m not going to write about how perfect I am. I’m not going to tell you every single relationship was a positive one and never ended badly. I’m not concern with how it might appear to other people as they read this. Truthfully, I am perfectly, imperfect. I have my faults and my weaknesses in life and I acknowledge what they are. We try so hard to be what everyone else wants us to be and we hold this image in our mind that if we don’t possess certain qualities, look a certain way or act a certain way that people will just not care about us anymore. I like the blunt honest truth, I am that I am, and acceptance has put me that much closer in-tune with myself, to then be able to work on my weaknesses in life. To understand relationships better and attract more wealth not just in possessions but spiritual. (Yeah, I’m one of THOSE types of people, sorry.)

Getting back to this past weekend, the greatest gift you can offer someone is your time, time well spent is time laughing and sharing in fond memories & creating new ones. And just the ability to share happiness with each other can instantaneously alter another persons path, as happiness & positivity is infections. Needless to say I am excited, I am filled with joy by the friendships that are in my life right now. And I wish I could just go on top of a mountain every single morning and shout out how grateful I am for all of them. And I guess this blog could be considered my mountain, but don’t take your friends for granted. Let them know how much they mean to you as a person, for real, it’s the most painful experience to wake up one morning and realize things aren’t how they were before. So appreciate them, not in what you say, but in what you can do, without anything in return.

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Which brings me to another kind of friendship that I do love to have in my life, a person that you might not see them every single day, or week, month or even years but still find ways to communicate. They are there in your heart in some way shape or form, they might not tell you but just how much of an impact you, being you, has had on them.

Some of these friends drift away, gone off to do their own thing for sometime but something always draws you back into their lives. It could be a life event, or someone who is just willing to take the plunge to make an effort to reconnect because they miss that feeling you gave to them, but something draws you back to the essence of their being.

And the magic happens when that time in-between, never even really happened, you just picked up where you left off. You might have grown, experienced different things but you still remember that feeling you got from being around that person.

Friends are like stars they come and they go but only the true ones glow

So what does all these have to do with the above quote at the very top? Everything! Friendships are very important to a persons success, people have the ability to uplift you or drag you down to their level. So choose your friends wisely my friends, You want to surround yourself with individuals that are optimistic, not pessimistic. You want to have friends that believe in possibilities and not just be satisfied with how things are. And lastly you want to be around people that have the same sense of purpose and passion as you do. People that want to be there to share your excitement, challenge you to do great things with your life and can help them do the same in theirs.

I will leave you with this great interview with LeBron James, NBA superstar, who credits his success in the NBA to the friendship he developed before his success.

Be Brave – Be strong and Be Legendary
– Michael

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Filed under General Life, Passion & Purpose

The Power of Networking & Community

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So, as I sit down to write this blog, all I keep thinking of is to apologize to the reader profusely. This is not going to be a short read but I hope you read it all the way though and feel inspired by it, with that being said this is a blog entry about my three year journey of networking, and being involved in community activities and why it is important not just to you as a creative mind, but as a person.

The three year journey begins where I use to work, the company was the video production company that did all the Invest in Hamilton videos. It was there that I picked up so many skill sets I contributed most of my success from.

I will begin with my love of Social Media, and when I say social media I really mean Twitter. In the beginning I never understood twitter. I thought it was a silly site, writing what you want to say within a 140 characters seemed very ridiculous! But I knew as a company, you must be on the majority of the social media platforms to reach an audience / build relationships with people and other companies.

Perhaps it’s more of the psychologically nature of it, you might not need a service of a company right away but by building key relationships with people, somewhere down the line when they need your services they will instinctively remember you because you might have been the last person they tweeted with.

So I took up doing a majority of their social media relations, making sure their brand and message was heard through a couple of hours a day doing social media. It wasn’t until I started interacting with clients, that I knew there was more that could be done. Clients boasting about the customer service, which is free advertising to the company never hurts and it is highly authentic.

I was also privileged to work on a couple of music videos as a camera operator with two of my co-workers from the video production company as side projects with them.

On top of my regular day to day stuff, social media, editing and cutting online commercials for directory based business. I was also going out to shoot as part of Invest in Hamilton. It was in doing that where a majority of my networking, community, and relationship building came into play.

Interviewing Hamilton’s high profile individuals either in business, community related, and provided me to meet individuals I call my friends to date.

One such individual was Kevin Browne. Kevin, has been a source of inspiration in my eyes for a such a long time. A community leader in the Tech & Startup field in Hamilton, organizer of DemoCamp and Startup Drinks and very much for the grassroots movement to change a city. (Software Hamilton)

First initially met Kevin during a shoot by Invest In Hamilton for DemoCamp, I was completely inthralled by what was happening in the startup space at the time, all these great and awesome minds building something of value for community use. And I often wondered to myself, why isn’t this being covered more?
I mean, mainstream media covers a majority of the big events, Lions Lair, Startup Weekend, but nothing really at the beginning stages, the moment where everyone gets started. Seemed like a shame to not be able to tell their stories too.

Thus, enters the TechTalk year. For about a year and half now, I made it my mission to cover Demo Camps for the soul purpose of capturing individuals and or group of developers at the beginning stages of their ideas. One individual stood out in my mind which is Ethan Do of OverAir, where just last November he was pitching his idea for the very first time to the general public, we captured an interview with him along with his pitch and since then has gone on to win awards and funding in Toronto and taken his company to the next level.

I don’t find success to be inspiring, success, a long side with perseverance is almost the inevitable. What I find inspiring is hearing the individual story and where they came from and how they came to be and not about the company that has a million dollars. When you talk about inspirational stories from highly successful individuals or companies you’re already putting them on a higher stage and above the individuals you’re looking to inspire. As the quote goes, you can’t compare someone’s chapter 20 to your chapter 1, and I would much rather hear about chapter 1 then chapter 20 right now and get lost in their story of success.

I have been using other networking events such as Startup Drinks as a way of getting validation from Startups and Entrepreneurs to find out ways to improve quality and make TechTalk a more of a sustainable Web Series that creates more value for the viewer. So make sure you keep your eye out this fall as we come back from a summer hiatus to bigger and better TechTalk.

It was also through Kevin and DemoCamp where I met my next source of inspiration, Dale Mugford of BraveNewCode. He has another highly motivating story about how life can throw you a curve ball and turn your entire world upside down, and it is ultimately up to you to wallow in self pity or learn how to adjust the sails and start a new journey.

Having already the privilege of knowing his fiance, Roz of Double Barrel from other encounters, they told me about this exciting new event they want to bring into Hamilton. WordCamp Hamilton, another grassroots movement that is in almost every major city fathomable. Dale thought it was ready to have one in Hamilton to.

Again, another interesting project to work on that was more so self-gratifying to me to be involved in such a great community building event. Bringing together individuals that before didn’t know they blogged or had a word press account and learning from such people Like Kevin Browne, Joey Coleman, Kristen Archer & Seema Narula was a delightful way to spend a day.

They (Roz & Dale) brought me into do some social media engagement, again, knowing what they knew about me and my past and how much I love Social Media they thought it would be a great fit and so well & being that I have become so connected to different aspects of the community from creative to startups to individual bloggers in the city helped me source out individuals that I know would find an event like this valuable. Also helped Roz and Lee of Double Barrel with filming and capturing the event which was sold out by the way for WordCamp Tv.

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Another such instance was meeting Matthew Green, another truly inspiring person that has helped me a great deal and motivated me to do a lot of what I do. He also introduced me to Leo of Empowerment Squared and brought me on board a life changing moment to produce a 6 minute video for his project to build a Learning Centre in Liberia.

This project was many months of us back and forth about how to create a well rounded story that will encapsulate everything that Empowerment Squared stands for, sharing Leo’s story with the rest of the world. The video was recently launched last week, and the only reason why I brought it up in this blog was again the power of networking and building relationships with individuals has connected me to both Leo & Matthew and thus being able to work with both of them on such a phenomenal cause that will make a HUGE difference to the people in Liberia.

Which brings me back to where I have been, and what inspires me. As most of you know and probably think, and the answer is yes, I totally am YouTube obsessed from time to time. I don’t feel it’s an obsession as much as it is a dedication and a sense of passion for storytelling.

That journey began in 2006 when I launched my first Youtube channel, and Youtube was, well very much what it should be today. But that moment changed when Google then bought Youtube and now it’s less about community and more so about eyeballs on your content. But still some of the bigger names still hope for the best and want to do more for the people that are just launching channels which is also nice to see. But growing an audience does not happen over night. You don’t just post a video on Youtube and expect it to automatically reach your target market or demographic. It’s a lot of hard work, 40 hours a week almost to connect with people with similar interest to make a series or vlog successful. And it is not just a one way street, Youtube, like any form of social media is very much a two way street of commenting on other channels.

I became immersed in the vlogging culture youtube adopted. What is vlogging you ask? well it’s simple, right now you are reading a blog, vlogging is just video blogging. People sharing their thoughts and life online. Seems kind of weird don’t you think? But no doubt you’ve got a Facebook account, and isn’t that what Facebook was created for, so I guess it’s not so weird after all?

If you want to see a really awesome documentary pre-google check out the Anthropological look on Youtube
Link is below.

Anyways, getting back into the story, I soon stopped posting, to do the whole school thing but I knew I wanted to come back to it all in some way. I took Television Broadcasting at Mohawk as most of you know and successfully graduated. After looking at the landscape of the television world there was something that sunk into my mind and that is do I really want to be in the Television world?

After spending three years of my life learning everything, it has come down to, did I just waste 3 years of my life? Thankfully the answer is of course no, but that is when I started working for the video production company and worked there for 2 years.

But I started to notice and discover all these high-quality social web series, mostly through Revision3. A network that accuired certain high profile content creators to be apart of their larger network. That Network was then soon bought by Discovery Channel. And that brought the inspiration to do TechTalk as a Web Series and try and adopt their model of using the power and influence of a host to generate ad revenue dollars, same way old school television and radio ads were back in the day.

It also jump started to see if anyone else in the Hamilton area enjoyed creating Youtube videos as much as I did. And again inspired by Kevin Browne and the Startup Drinks meetups I began hosting my own YoutubeDrinks Meet ups.

This was also around the same time Creative Exchange a networking event hosted by the Hamilton Film and Television office shut down their events for the summer. Feeling frustrated not being able to meet new creatives and engage in new ideas that is how Youtube Drinks came to be.

It wasn’t until May/July of last year when I heard about the WebSeries Community growing in Toronto, hesitant to go venture out to Toronto by myself, I willed myself to go and meet new people. When I first got there I felt kind of out of place not knowing anyone there, until I met Rodney Smith (Out of Time WebSeries), an out-spoken, outgoing, vibrant individual that first said hello to me at the bar.

It was there where I introduced myself and told him where I’m from and thats when he took me around to meet some Toronto Creatives. Soon after it felt like I was home, I met close to 50 creatives and had a conversations with. All of them working on some sort of Web Series project, I remember thinking “This is unbelievable!”

All these individuals, are so forward thinking and ahead of their time right now and they are sitting and having drinks all in one room! My first initial thought was this is the kind of community I would love to see grow in Hamilton.

Hamilton’s creative class would LOVE this, and that was the turning point for Youtube Drinks to then become the Hamilton Web Series Community, a monthly meet up for Hamilton’s creative class that wish to do more web based projects & series ideas.

Also, while in attendance at the Toronto web series meet up was their launch for funding to start the IWCC (Independent Web Creators of Canada) a non for profit organization geared to help promote Canadian Content Creators, which has since launch and is now well on it’s way to host it’s first huge public event which we will get into in a moment.

But first, through speaking and networking with the Toronto Community I met an individual by Robert Mills (Rubber Chicken Players, and coming soon SteamPunk Adventures)
who then invited me to be on the panel the IWCC was hosting during FanExpo.


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(photo courtesy of Jess Morton of Jess the Press)

For anyone that doesn’t know what FanExpo is you can check out the link here

It was an honour to be up with the panel with individual creators of such Web Series as Steampunk Adventures, Clutch, Tight & Fights & Pretty in Geek, Kids town, BJ Fletcher Private Eye, and many more to speak about the future of Web Series.

You see, everything is changing now. You have the Canadian Screen Awards which is pretty much the Gemini and Genie awards now open to submission from the Web. Which means your little Web Drama Series can be internationally known.

There is of course WebFest’s springing up in major cities around the world such as LA, Rome, Australia that accept international submissions. And new to 2013 -2014 Vancouver and Toronto will be hosting their own WebFest.

So what exactly does this all mean for a creator? Well, one thing that was talked about on the panel was a screen is just a screen! Doesn’t matter if you’re watching your content through an inferior device such as a Television Screen or you’re watching shows through your smart phone or tablet. Technology has made it easier to watch your favourite content any where at any time.

A network is merely a name that your favourite show is on that you probably don’t even remember the name of in the first place. Services like netflix, allowing you to watch all the episodes of your favourite series to be downloaded or streamed where ever you might be is becoming more of a trend.

So what’s the difference if you find a series on Youtube such as H+ Digital (Produced by Bryan Singer)

Or Video Game Highschool

or if you watch it through something like CTV’s mobile App that is now accruing Web based content to be apart of their library, is there really one any more?

Such as the Web Series GuideStone that went from Youtube to the CTV site as a series.

And CBC, publicly funded by Canadian tax dollars to bring you Canadian content, isn’t that relatively the same as a content creator with a large enough audience to do a crowd sourcing campaign to bring you a second and third season… and they do it because they have a choice to do so.

Another item spoken about at on the panel, does length matter, if you’re trying to gear your web series towards a television audience is it better to make 26 minute long episodes and then break them down with the idea in the back of your head that it can be commercialized at some point down the road.

With all of that being said, being on that panel was terrific experience and I loved every minute of the discussion, now the question is where do we go from here.

From Hamilton’s side of things, I hope this blog post encourages more young vibrant creatives to come out to the Hamilton Web Series Meet ups. I hope it inspires them to get actively engage more so than ever to be apart of this growing movement. I hope that the more established individuals come out so that they can offer assistance with a younger generation wanting to get into the digital production space.

From the Independent Web Creators of Canada stand point, they are well on their way to becoming the flagship to build a strong united frontier. Future programs I would love to see come from the IWCC are more panel discussions and mentorship programs (which I’m sure are already in the works) to take your idea from start to finish learning from already well established Web Series.

And create a bridge between the city of Hamilton and the City of Toronto’s Web Creators, utilizing Hamilton’s unique city landscapes, and tapping into the Hamilton creatives to help build projects,
and of course for Hamilton to do the same within Toronto.

I also would love to see IWCC become the “gatekeeper”, where funding can come direct from the organization that has the creator driven mindset. And understand the challenges every web creator must go through in order to make a project successful.

And for us to continue to grow and learn from one another, build strong relationships with individuals even if you don’t know the reason for meeting each other just yet, the answer will reveal itself over time.

I will leave you with this Quote from the late Steve Jobs.

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Here is how I determine this quote it to be in reflection of my own experiences, you can either work for someone else and see their dreams come true, or you can really focus on what you’re passionate about. And sometimes it means to work while you’re working. Taking on one or two jobs just so you can self fund projects with out having to worry about the headaches so be it, but never lose sight or feeling you have in your heart. Never stop building relationships with people, never stop networking and meeting individuals that some day down the line might be able to assist you in accomplishing your goals and dreams. Always be community driven with the best intentions to help others discover what makes them come alive inside.

P.s I also had an opportunity to have my picture taken with Hannah of Verses Valerie.

Which again I thought was pretty cool!

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And as always, Be Legendary.

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5 Things I wish I knew in college as a creative

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I learned in my college years at Mohawk College as a Television Broadcasting student the past few weeks. And had many conversations with highly engaged community driven creative individuals and I can’t imagine what the future for creatives in the city will be like in 5 to 10 years down the line.

The industry is changing very drastically even from a month-to-month basis that it’s hard to know how everything in the digital space will pan out. I’m not going to write something like Television is completely dead. It really isn’t, but how we consume our media has drastically change.

Our society has slowly changed, we no longer have valuable family time on a Friday night, watching Family Matters, Full House, and Whose The Boss. We no longer sit down at 6pm & or 11pm to watch the evening news… why would we? We’ve checked out our facebook, twitter feed and got the news updates as it is happening in real time. It use to be normal just have one single television set in the family room where we could all congregate, and then, it became normal to have a television set in every room of the house… okay, I’m exaggerating, perhaps one in each bedroom, plus a family room.

But as the digital age progresses, fewer people are watching “television” the way we use to think television should be watched. A majority of television consumption is now through our Smart phones, Tablets, laptop and desktop computers. We are also consuming media in shorter lengths of time because our attention span as dwindled down right to the core. If it doesn’t capture our attention within the first 30 seconds you’ve lost the audience. If you’re not a die hard fan of the concept why do I care to watch it in the first place.

So with all that being said, I wonder what kind of education is being programmed into young idealistic minds today to shape the future of tomorrow. Are they learning about the importance of content being produced and know why we create with an idea of cross platform purposes. Are they merely being taught the basics of video production or other technical aspects that would go into storytelling or finally are they being taught to think in new innovative ways, and think beyond the box we tend to put ourselves in.

So with that being said, I comprised a short top 5 list of things I wish I knew when I first got started in College.

1.) Networking, biggest favour to yourself is getting out in the community and network with other creatives, bring your friends, along with you too, force them into it if you have to!

Networking at events such as Creative Exchange, anything by Factory Media Arts, Cobalt Connects, get out there now, even if you’re just starting out and have nothing to show, it doesn’t matter. The skills you develop by actually interacting with people that are doing something in real time will go a long way with your professional career.

And you never know, you might just end up with a job with a simple handshake and a smile. Find the grassroots networking events, Startup Drinks comes to mind, which is a great networking event that happens once a month that will allow you to easily break the ice, but be consistent when attending. Once you do that, bring a friend, then they feel comfortable and may know another individual that might consider it of value to make connections. That is how we grow together as a community and build long lasting relationships with our peers.

And if at all possible, if you see something missing and you think the creative community could benefit from, build your own networking event. Reach out to the people you wish you could see more of at networking events, never get bogged down being and be an island only to yourself and a select few. The more individuals you know the more opportunities are then created for you to grow not only as a professional but as a person as well.

That’s what I ended up doing over the last year, after I attended my first Web Series meet up in Toronto, I fell in love with the energy that flowed through the space. It was something I was already passionate about so it only made sense to me that I wanted to bring that energy to the Hamilton Creatives.

And don’t be afraid to take the lead, and be a leader if you have to, even if it’s not widely accepted in the beginning. The more you work on building your connections the more people get to know what you’re up to and trying to accomplish.

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2.) If you’re not on social media, start now! And I don’t mean just the usual suspects (Facebook and Google) I mean twitter, Linkedin, even instagram. Use them to build your digital presence, another fellow Mohawk Grad actually brought this up. And after thinking about it, it was so true. You don’t have to have a company twitter account, it is more about getting into the process of interacting with again your community, building trust online, and creating engaging conversation.

Just make sure when you do sign up for twitter, you make your user name as simple as your first and last name. Try not to make it too crazy. The friend I spoke of which most of you reading this probably have seen his tweets, has gone through a few name changes and the only reason for this is as he continues to grow his following on twitter he has changed his work place at least once or twice and with each time he does, he merely changes the end of his twitter handle to reflect the company that he might be working for.

Linkedin, another great way to build relationships and potential leads for future job opportunities. Again, regardless of work experience, start building your professional connections now! It will make the transition process of being a student to a professional a whole lot smoother.

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3.) Take a business course: I would have loved to have more of an intensive class within the 3 year program that talks about the aspect of being a creative entrepreneur. For those individuals that have a passion and drive to build their own business. To be able to learn more about team building, managerial, sales, marketing side of production services. And the knowing what a reasonable rate is for the line of work that you’re doing. Obviously it will vary depending on the situation, a team of one won’t charge the same price as a team of 5 or 6 individuals as a company so that is a must to take into the consideration.

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4.) Development of boundaries: In other words, don’t ever let anyone walk all over you and take advantage of your skill sets as a creative. There is a statue of limitations on proving yourself in the industry and get away from the “It will be a great demo reel piece.” Knowing how much your time is worth, how much your equipment costs and your educational background. You are not a ‘starving artist’ there is no such thing, you just have to develop the right mindset as a creative well in advance before you dive in.

I can tell you through my experience, I spent almost a grand total of 14,000 dollars on getting all of my equipment. I saw it as an investment opportunity, and I haven’t regretted that decision yet. I also spend money every time I go out and buy a new external hard drive so I can properly archive and maintain raw footage just in case if I have to go back to something.

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Now going back to education, if your in Television Broadcasting, you’re using industry leading, cutting edge equipment that probably costs more than anyone is willing to admit. You’re trained in the art of storytelling, knowing what drives a great emotional piece that psychologically compels the viewer to share. You’re using equipment has to be properly taken care of and update and software that costs a pretty penny, unless of course you do it the old pirate way.

So knowing where, when and why you’re setting the boundaries is key. This isn’t a hobby class you’re taking this is your professional career and people have to understand that but most of all you have to understand that. And you might have to say no to projects you really want to take on, but, if you say yes all the time and especially with little to no pay being rewarded it will be that much harder to break later on in life.

5.) Follow your passion: This one is probably the most important of them all. Follow your passion, passion & enthusiasm will set you apart from everyone else. Never let the industry drain your passion to the point that you become jaded. The minute that you come across like that, get out of the way.

And there is a big difference between being realistic and jaded, even when your realistic you still have enthusiasm but if you’re jaded you just rip apart anything that someone new wants to try. And it becomes more pessimistic view on the world. Never let someone else’s path derail you from yours.

Even if they have 30 years worth of experience behind them, the fact is, times are changing. What might not have worked 10 years ago when they first tried to implement the very same idea, could have a completely different impact on how it could work now. Be mindful of these individuals, and stay true to your passionate side, keep the imagination alive and be open to endless possibilities, hang on to that as tightly as possible!

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And my final thought for all of the above is always stay true to yourself, never try and pretend to be like someone else! Be as real as possible. You don’t need to impress anyone, you just need to be you! Let your passion shine through your work like the golden sun breaking through the clouds of a stormy day.

Love and cherish every minute that you spend filling your head up with knowledge and truly empower yourself to be the best creative individual you can be.

– Cheers Michael

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What’s your purpose?

“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it” ― Gautama Buddha

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I’ve always struggled to find my purpose in life, I’ve done everything I was suppose to and every time I did I would find myself unfulfilled. Sometimes it felt like I was floating down someone else’s path and living someone else’s life.

The only thing I love is art, and creating art to be viewed, to be heard, to be read, and the excitement I get when someone see’s something I’ve created for the first time and the initial feedback receive is absolutely thrilling to me, unmatched by anything I have ever experienced before. Even when the impact is negative, I don’t take things straight to the heart, I do listen to suggestions about the craft I might be participating in.

One constant theme through out my entire life was storytelling and the art of telling a riveting good story, something that is driven by characters and their purpose. I suppose that’s why I am a sucker for a good 80’s movie. Back before we could honestly say “That movie had some amazing CGI effects”

With my novel project, I wanted to do something completely different, not that I am doing this to make money although that is the end result but it’s about working on a project for a short period of time and then having it self-sufficent later on. Basically while I sleep it could still be generating an income.

I think it takes more courage to do something you’re afraid of doing because the result could go south, then not to try anything at all and follow the path with least resistance. It’s the resistance that makes for great stories to tell at the end. And I think that is part of my purpose is to find that and be daring, not afraid to do it because in the end it could lead to something absolutely beautiful and pleasurable and I would and could be in a position to help others that are in a similar situation.

So I suppose in short, when I talk about passion and purpose within my life, in a nut shell is to be creative in everything that I do. Tell stories that create emotion within people and never hide my talents from the universe and explore how they can all interact with each other building a unique force of passion that challenges me.

So what’s your purpose in life?

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“While They Sleep” Novel CrowdFunding Campaign

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I am a storyteller, content creator, and I help promote other creator’s content because I believe in what they do.

Have you ever had a dream, and come so close to accomplishing it, and but gave up shortly after, and all you needed was to push a little further to and just need someone to give you a hand up to really build something tangible.

I feel this novel is just that for me, I’ve worked tirelessly on this project, and now I just need that hand up to really make this project come true.

The novel is an action & adventure story about a woman, Sarah Monroe, a writer / archaeologist who goes on incredible journey of self-discovery.

The novel is also about the disconnect between humans and technology. And how technology is suppose to serve us better as communicators but really it destroys the best part of being human with social interaction.

The novel will also have a film / series counter part to go along with the novel.

So in funding this campaign you will help me with

• Having an editor go through the book with me
• Publishing the novel as a paperback/hardcopy version
• Marketing and promotion of the book
• Graphic designer to work on the cover of the book as well.

The 9,000 will also help fund the series / Film production costs
and there for you will also be acknowledge as a producer role in helping me fund this project.

Link to the first two chapters of the Novel:  While_They_Sleep_Novel_By_Michael_Canton
Link to the GoFundMe Site to donate to this Novel:  http://www.gofundme.com/3kxm9k

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