Philly Creative Guide

Event Spotlight

Juanita Berge | Philly Creative Guide Event Reporter

DIY Days Philadelphia
by Juanita Berge, 1 Sep 2009

DIY Days Philadelphia is one of a series of live conferences at UArts on Saturday, August 1, 2009. Originally conceived as a venue in which filmmakers could connect directly with audiences, DIY DAYS is a free day of talks and networking centered on how to creatives can sustain themselves in challenging economic times. The conferences have come to include areas beyond film, such as music, gaming and software. They specifically address sustainability in an era of shifting distribution systems, and look at how creatives can now monetize their work. They see their target audience as anyone wanting to make creative work – and looks at how to fund, create, distribute and sustain that work. Structured around panels, roundtable discussions and workshops they focus on such topics as new forms of storytelling, new models of finance, production and distribution, audience building, transmedia activism and creative collaboration.


DIY Days Philadelphia represents the largest conference to date, after a successful first year that included stops in LA, San Francisco, Boston, NYC and London. The event had over 40 speakers and 22 different sessions running in two separate spaces from 8:30am to 6:30pm. The speakers represented an amazing range of creative disciplines.

The morning began with 3 seminars offered: Fans, Friends & Followers, a talk that got at the heart of the conference with discussion on nurturing audiences and business models that support the artist; Building a Creative Foundation, avoiding the pitfalls of credit; and the Evolution of Storytelling, an examination of the art of storytelling and its changes as the audience moves from passive to active collaborator.


DIY Days Philadelphia begins with an introduction by Lance Weiler. Copyright © 2009 by Kendall Whitehouse

Mid-morning brought: Scientists are the New Rockstars, a live, multimedia exploration of the line between science, metaphysics and art as it relates to collective consciousness and proprietary intellectual property; and Sita Sings the Blues, a distribution project report in which hard data was shared.

Late morning brought: Mobile Apps, a step-by-step in taking a project from concept to application on your mobile device; Extending the Experience, a discussion of the tools studios are using to reach audiences now – from alternate reality games, virtualization, visualization, geo-locational services to augmented reality and mobile apps; and New Models in Music, how musicians are foregoing traditional sales, licensing and tour deals in favor of forging direct relationships with their audiences and how these new models will have impact beyond the music industry.


Panel session on 'Extending the Experience' From left to right David Beard, Michael Monello, John Lee, Brian Clark, and moderator Ivan Askwith. Copyright © 2009 by Kendall Whitehouse

Early afternoon sessions were: Changes in Creative Collaboration, a team of cutting edge creators share their technologies and techniques in working with actors, crew and each other in order to make films that have no creative borders; New Models of Funding: Beyond the Big Screen, explores how extending the story experience is leading to new funding models for makers of film; and the Future of Comics takes a look at how portability is expanding readership, creating new business models and global distribution channels.

Mid afternoon saw: Value in a Bucket: The Construction of Social & Subcultural Capital in Technobrega, Brazil's Technobrega music industry has foregone copyright yet is a thriving, viable industry, and what we can learn from this; a workshop – Transmedia Activism, looks at cross-media strategies and online tools in engaging diverse communities in social justice issues – an actual case study is examined.


DIY Days Town Hall Panel (Left to right) John Henry Thompson, Allan Edmunds, Gretjen Clausing, and moderator Geoff Dimasi.
Copyright © 2009 by Kendall Whitehouse

Late afternoon offered: From Here to Awesome, the conference's core roundtable on where the independent film industry goes from here in the realms of funding, creation, distribution and sustainability; Better Than Free, a look at how financing of new media can continue in the face of the Internet's unchecked, free-flowing super-distribution; and What You Need to Know – Audience Building, a guided tour of the tools and techniques to growing an audience and turning it into a fan base.

Some of the more noteworthy presenters were Douglas Rushkoff, the conference's keynote speaker. Rushkoff is an award-winning author of ten best-selling books, novels and graphic novels on new media and popular culture, a teacher of media studies at the New School University, and documentarian.

Keynote speaker Douglas Rushkoff
Keynote speaker Douglas Rushkoff.
Copyright © 2009 by Kendall Whitehouse

Lance Weiler, founder of the Workbook Project and roving conference series DIY Days, and co-founder of a research and development project called From Here to Awesome. He is a critically acclaimed, award-winning writer/director. Recognized as a pioneer for the way he creates and distributes his work, Wired magazine named him "One of the 25 people helping to re-invent entertainment and change the face of Hollywood."

Leah Kauffman, a writer/singer in three popular viral videos, one of Philly Magazines '76 People to Watch.'

Dan Goldman, acclaimed comics creator of the Eisner-nominated web-to-print comic Shooting War, whose work is part of the NY Historical Society's permanent collection, as well as a founding member of the webcomics collective ACT-I-VATE.

Dan Goldman discusses his work
Dan Goldman discusses his work.
Copyright © 2009 by Kendall Whitehouse

Arin Crumley, named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the top 20 new media moguls, co-creator of the popular independent film and online video series, Four Eyed Monsters, also co-founder of a research and development project called From Here to Awesome which has been uniting filmmakers to create the future models of collaboration, funding, production and distribution.

Mike Monello, a DIY indie-filmmaker and co-creator of The Blair Witch Project. Co-founder of Campfire, a company that developes narrative experience campaigns for major brands.

Nina Paley, creator of the award-winning animated musical feature Sita Sings the Blues, teacher at Parsons School of Design and 2006 Guggenheim Fellow.

Nina Paley
Nina Paley discusses the 'free distribution project' for her feature length animated film 'Sita Sings the Blues.'.
Copyright © 2009 by Kendall Whitehouse

Brian Newman president and former CEO of the Tribeca Film Institute. He speaks regularly on new media, audience development and the future of the web.

Geoff DiMasi, head of P'unk Avenue, co-founder of Independents Hall, organizer of Junto, co-organizer of Ignite Philly and coordinator of BarCamp Philly. A former board member of Vox Populi and current member of the Board of the Free Library of Philadelphia, he now serves as adjunct faculty member at UArts.

Gretjen Clausing, currently Executive Director of Philadelphia's Public Access TV station, former Program Director at Scribe Video Center, created Film at the Prince, worked at International House and the Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema. Currently on the boards of the National Alliance of Media Arts and Culture, the Leeway Foundation and the Philadelphia Independent Film and Video Association (PIFVA).

Allan L. Edmunds, founder and current president of Brandywine Workshop, recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowships, and is Distinguished Alumni of the Tyler School of Art.

Well-attended and fast-paced throughout the day, I was able to catch up with the founder of DIY Days, Lance Weiler at the post-conference party at Brandywine Workshop www.brandywineworkshop.com at 728 S. Broad Street. With this being DIY Days first stop in Philadelphia I wondered how it compared to other cities that had previously hosted the conference. Philadelphia has been the biggest conference to date and hosted nearly 300 attendees. "Most people have been inspired by it (the conference.) I've been struck by the openness of it, how accessible and free the information passing back and forth has been. People have really shared in new ways. I think the openness has really been important. This whole conference has been based on the philosophy of Open Source Software." When asked what session he was sure not to miss he replied, "I was very excited to see the Town Hall session of DIY Days and excited for its application to the community here in Philadelphia. That cross-pollination is very important." You can check out two web sites Lance authors at www.workbookproject.com and www.showcase.fromheretoawesome.com.

For a link to the photographer’s blog, please click Kendall Whitehouse.

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