Friday, April 17, 2009

Why have a bank? Vote with your feet. Walk out.

If you're like me you don't hold onto money long enough to warrant keeping a bank account with the liability of bouncing checks when it nears bottom. So don't have one. Use money orders. Why direct deposit all your cash into some crooks' bank? It's your money. Put in in your wallet, or your safe. By the time I pay my bills all I have left is spending cash for food anyway.

If you must have a bank account, just put enough in to cover the bills you must pay by check or your bank card. Why bother going to a money machine every time you need your own cash? Why pay all the associated fees? Banks have a great racket. They hold all your money, fee you when ever they feel like it, post your checks when ever they feel like, and share all your transactions with any government agency or lawyer who comes down the pike.

We have the power to stop banks in their tracks. Vote with your feet. Walk out of your bank.

It's been suggested that credit unions are a great alternative to banks. I don't think people should blindly follow any one strategy or part of the industry. One credit union may be good. Another may be bad. Generally they sound good, but they all still charge the same interest and fees as banks.

Why should people be responsible for propping up an economy based on credit, which profits the bankers, including credit unions? People should learn to live within their means, not on credit. This is the root of the problem. This is what the Japanese discovered when they went through this. They now live more within their means.

The further contraction of the economy without banks that some fear is merely a contraction of credit. People still have the ability to make a living and profit. In fact, without the incredible interest they now pay, up to around 30% on a typical credit card for example, they will have more money and the 'no bank, no credit' strategy will improve their cash position.

The only thing banks are good for is credit, and right now that is even questionable. The root of our problem is credit. It's time to think outside of the vicious credit cycle box. If banks want to attract customers they should compete for the business, reduce their interest rates, cut out all the fees and overdraft penalties that multiply when they hit. That's how a free market will work. Credit unions have those fees and interest charges too. Until they come up with a better alternative, I say walk out on them. Make them earn our trust and our business.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Who Needs Hollwood? Not these guys.

There's a new movement in filmmaking. It's what you might call a "who need's Hollywood?", DIY approach. A number of new filmmakers have had some awesome success with this. The thing is there is no one way for everybody. Each filmmaker seems to find their own road. But there are some commonalities, like social networking, self-distribution, and audience interaction, and always hard work.

Arin Crumley and Susan Buice successfully produced, directed and distributed their feature film, Four Eyed Monsters, through the internet and a lot of Google time. One thing about this is that technology moves so fast, and things are ever changing, so that what worked for them is already outdated. But their independent spirit in going down their own road, even paving their way through a wilderness, was the thing we can all take away from their experience and apply to ourselves. By the way, Four Eyed monsters garnered two Independent Spirit Award nominations.

The road they took started with vlogs on YouTube. I think they planned this as part of their strategy in marketing their film. Their vlogs were about the behind the scenes "making of" stuff that you might find in typical DVD extras. But there is nothing typical about these guys. The film itself was kind of a similar docudrama of their relationship, much of it in a vlog fourth wall style. That sounds a bit repugnant on paper. But the film is really beautiful. Check out the trailer to get a feel for it.  So while the film was about their relationship's birth, life and death, as the tagline reads, the vlogs were about that too, along with the making of the film and with more reality.

The interesting this is that their "making of" experience is like none you've ever seen, or maybe never will. They forged their way to gather a YouTube and social network audience, which they translated into theatrical sales, by capturing emails and zip codes and persuading  theaters across the country to show their film during four Thursdays September in 2005, I think it was. That itself is quite an accomplishment. But it doesn't end there. in fact it still hasn't ended.

They acquired support form a number of online web film distributor ventures, including YouTube, where they were the first online feature release, and, who paid them a dollar for everyone who they referred to Spout, amounting to $35,000. Their vlogs were so popular that they included them as a series of episodes on the DVD, along with the film and a soundtrack CD. The DVD has sold around 1500 copies through their website, mainly. Now they are talking to DVD distributors and I think they are available at Borders and maybe on a cable movie channel in the future.

This is backwards from what the conventional Hollywood big business model professes. In that model, you never release to the DVD market and certainly not the internet, until you have exploited the theatrical market. Not these guys. They offered their film for free on YouTube, along with the vlog episodes, which built interest for the DVD and generated the theatrical and DVD markets.

I've heard filmmakers worry about exposing their film like this, as a quick way to kill all chances for conventional distribution. but what Arin is saying is that conventional distribution is a pipe dream. Susan calls it the prince with the glass slipper. This is so true, and so obvious, it's amazing filmmakers haven't seen this before. We are wasting our time submitting to festival after festival, where are chances are a few hundred out of 5000 to 6000 for the big festivals. Even if we have a good film, and even if it;s picked up by a festival, the chances of finding a distributor this way are so remote. There are usually one or two film at any festival, if that, that get a distribution deal. Then what? Our films are shelved. We don't have to accept this treatment.

Like Arin and Susan we have the greatest marketing tool at our fingertips, and it's free. The internet. Lance Weller and some others have a website,, where these kinds of things are discussed openly. You'd be surprised at how many filmmakers are finding audiences this way.

Here are some websites to check out:
YouTube Screening Room

At these sites you'll find a lot more links.

Check out my own venture at, and my film project, Stop War.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Stop War Project

The Stop War Project seeks to stop all war for all time through the power of communication. I believe the troubles in the world stem from a lack of communication. If we all were more informed of what was going on in the world this might be very different. I believe we could even stop war this way. The Iraq war has gone on for six years, costing thousands of American lives and over a million Iraqi lives, most of them innocent people, children and babies. Would the people in this country stand for such a policy if they were the victims? No. But a bigger question is, do most Americans even know what has been going on?

For six years we've been supposedly "fighting" terrorists by wage a preemptive war in Iraq. Meanwhile the real architect of that terrorism, Osama Bin Laden, is yet to be found. In fact he is supposedly in Afghanistan. We have been bombing innocent people in the wrong country. Why?

There is also evidence that Al Queada stemmed from a CIA organization (see The Three Trillion Dollar War by Joseph Stiglitz). We know that Bin Laden was a CIA operative who worked with George H.W. Bush. Amazingly we can't account for this one man's whereabouts after initially spending $1,000,000,000,000 (that's a trillion), 5000 American lives, 1.5 million Iraqi lives, 20,000+ innocent Afghan lives (God only knows the true numbers. We don't bother counting them. They're just Afghans.), in a supposed war to hunt him down.

Now if we're going to have a war we should at least be honest and upfront about it. If it's not Bin Laden then say so. If the cost is three to five trillion dollars as Joseph Stiglitz says, then fess up to it. Show us the American body count every week. Tell the American people the costs of these wars, the liabilities, the increased terrorism they proliferate and convince us it's worth it. No one can do this.

Iraq is a preemptive illegal racist American genocide and continues to be so. Is this America or a neo-Nazi state?

The more innocent people we kill, the more we motivate their survivors to become insurgents and terrorists and retaliate. What would you do if your town was bombed and your family killed. Would you sit back and take it? Our country was founded on the right to arms, to fight for and protect our freedom and our families. Yet we are oppressing another country, doing this very thing, and when they retaliate we call them terrorists, and retaliate with more bombs and guns, which keeps the cycle going and war profiteers profiting.

We are proliferating terrorism and endangering our freedom, not protecting it. And so our troops do not fight or die for freedom. They fight and die for Halliburton, Texaco, and Shell. They fight and die in vain. Many of them are vain. They are racist warmongers who live to fight and even die for the promise of glory, a false glory. But that's just my opinion. I respect your right to differ. Many troops fight and die with great honor, because they believe they do it for their country. But not all of them. Just look at the pictures and videos I have collected to see evidence of this. Even if they think they are fighting with honor, there's nothing honorable about preemptive racist genocidal war.

We need to get the word and the pictures out, to expose what's gong on. There are many veterans against war, who speak out and protest regularly. You can find them all over YouTube. You will also find racist troops who mock the Muslim culture, even to their faces, and show their strong prejudice and disrespect for theirs lives, for all life.

Join the Stop War Project Network.

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