Director of narrative, commercial, and virtual reality

Film Portfolio

Project Greenlight finalist | Short about sex, death, existence, time

Lily in the Grinder

Shabbat Dinner

Comedy short about coming out | Featured in 55+ festivals

Search is Back

Featured on TechCrunch | 7k users per day

Global event handing out nametags on first Sat in June

Nametag Day

Uber Forecast

Tracking Uber's surge pricing to guess what the weather might be

Archive for June, 2010

A call for privacy standards

It’s easy to take a defeatist attitude towards things we once considered undefeatable, like privacy and getting paid for producing content. For the most part I agree with the argument, which goes: there are millions of people using the internet across international borders. Preventing any behavior (bittorrent and copying text verbatim as two examples) is fighting an unwinnable arms race. Either there are too many people doing it, or the technology you develop will quickly become hacked or defeated. It’s a mishmash of challenges that come from an open internet, but the defeatism that comes from it is too often universally applied.

You can regulate Facebook, and you can regulate them hard and effectively. Same with Google. They are not bittorrent, they are small centralized companies that can be held accountable for their actions. But effective regulation in the digital age does not rely on laws; it relies on working with a company and its users.

Certification

My effective regulation strategy is certification. Agree upon several tiers of privacy awareness through a consensus-building process. As an example, the lowest-tier level would include deleting data immediately from a database when it is deleted on the site (Facebook probably has photos you deleted years ago) and protecting personal data from employees. A higher tier would require all privacy-related changes to be opt-in.

Next, establish companies that perform extensive security audits, with full access to the practices and systems of the companies. Establish peer reviews to keep them better than bond rating agencies. (Easier said than done, but c’mon this stuff is doable.)

Integrate this system into consumer products like Firefox’s site identity features. Firefox can warn users when they are entering a username and password with a site that is not privacy-certified.

Only now can we call on the government for a little help. Establish a mandate requiring companies above a certain size that operate in the US to be certified. Require web browsers developed in the US to integrate awareness of the privacy certification.

This model can be set up by the government and encouraged by the government, but it would ultimately succeed because of the consumer. On the one hand it’s a decline in the power of government; on the other it is an affirmation of their continued role in keeping the internet working well.

What it's like to own an Apple product

to iPhone 4g or not? It has more RAM than the iPad…why would they do that to customers? Oh right, because if they released a perfect product that worked a lot they couldn’t convince you to replace it in two years. I’m also not so enthused about the draconian dictatorship that is the app store .
What a great comic from theoatmeal.com:

It's simple: do something.

If idle hands are the devil’s plaything, then consider me Miles Davis! Those who know me will not be surprised to hear that I am writing this from an airplane in between reviewing a script, moving a website, editing another script, and watching DP reels. And listening to Regina Spektor.

I’ve learned an incredible lesson about making it in this world. In fact, it might the single greatest lesson I have learned. It’s this: do something and get hired to do it again. When people want a certain result, they will look to others who have delivered it before, or are expected to deliver it in the future. There’s little further investigation about a person’s capabilities, because what better indication than what they have done before, people think. And with mostly good reason.

I see it in my own decisions as I look to hire a Director of Photography for my music video. I’m not going to choose someone based on talents they have not demonstrated when there are plenty of people desperate to work for free who have already demonstrated them.

The lesson came to me strikingly through web design. In February I completed work on Ted Hope’s shiny new blog, and he offered graciously to put my name on the bottom with a link that sends me an email with the subject line “I’d like to hire you!” No sooner did the blog get launched that I started to get emails.

Start a riot and people ask you to start another. Build a chess set and you are asked to build another, or someone asks you if you do backgammon too. So I’m in the web design business now. I swore to myself that I wouldn’t get into the web design business, but then I went and designed a website :-o. It’s not terribly challenging now that I’ve learned the basics (though is very fun when it is) and it certainly pays the bills.

But that’s what made me think, well what happens when I make a music video?

Projects /ˈpɻɑʤεkt/

I’m hoping to shoot our music video for Mark Williams Band’s song Wonderful in a few weeks – Mark and I are meeting about it next weekend. I posted an ad looking for a cinematographer to the film industry job search site Mandy.com and got 27 resumés. Now I’m contacting the applicants and discussing the project. We will try to shoot it on the Mark 7D or 5D (relatively cheap SLRs that produce absolutely beautiful images and have been used to make the SNL intro video.) They produce lovely film-like images, even in poor lighting. Our project is no-budget and will be shot outdoors so we need that kind of flexibility. No definitive word on the content of the video, but I’ll say for now that it involves not many clothes and a lot of paint.

I also recently built the website for Peace After Marriage, a great indie film that begins shooting in a few weeks. The creatives (Ghazi, Faruk, and Bandar) are really funny and on point and it’s going to be a great film. The most exciting aspect of the site is my integration of Facebook’s new graph API. It felt odd to implement the tools while I have such rage over Facebook’s privacy policy, but I was sure to make the process entirely voluntary and upfront. There was a certain solace in writing <!– Implement evil Facebook tools –> before the code, though. Check it out – with a single click it grabs your email address through Facebook and subscribes you to the mailing list. I expect you’ll be seeing this a lot in the future, as any filmmaker will tell you that an email address is worth a lot, and it’s risky to rely on Facebook for a publicity strategy. Mailchimp, our email address provider, detects a user’s location and allows us to segment emails by particular cities or regions. Peace After Marriage’s presence will include an iPhone application, series of web video on YouTube, among others.)

I am also working with movie distribution superstar Vanessa Domico to revamp the site for her LGBT distribution company Outcast Films. One of their most recent films is Sex in an Epidemic, which details the rise of AIDS and the ugly culture of hate that grew around it. The changes I implement in the site will mostly be on the back end but there will be some cosmetic changes as well.

My resumé has hyperlinks

Does yours? Why not?

Quick tip: Go to Format -> Style in Word to customize the appearance of hyperlinks. Once you convert to PDF you have to open Acrobat Professional and redo the hyperlinks by selecting the text and right clicking. It’s worth it, I swear.

The ultimate web app

This program is totally possible, and to be honest I’m surprised that nobody’s invented it:

A sidebar for Firefox that shows all discussion around a webpage after you browse. Every time you load a page it refreshes with information:

  • any friends who have shared the page
  • social media comments (Facebook, Google Reader)
  • discussions about the page on forums
  • blogs and websites that link to it (including wikipedia, etc.)
  • aggregated reviews from the relevant sites: Yelp, Rotten Tomatoes, etc.
  • related pages
  • greasemonkey scripts and other web actions – for example, when browsing a Facebook photo album you see the option to download the whole thing, which has been engineered but someone on the greasemonkey site.

Build it with less than $5k, put ads up, make the world a better place. Most of these APIs are already in place.

The next Jusin Bieber?

2 or 3 things

So much to update on, so many blog posts on the back burner. They are coming.. For now feed yourself with Jean-Luc Godard and have a cup of coffee.

While browsing for films to use in teaching a class, I came across this gem. One of my favorite moments in film and what made me fall in love with Godard:

Liver Lover

This shit is too much for words. For the doctors and Andy Samberg fans out there, watch this spoof of “Mother Lover” featuring my friend, the one and only Steve Alerhand:

Embedding disabled – check it out on utoob.