Any News on “The Newsroom?”

As I sit here rewatching HBO’s The Newsroom, I wonder what everyone else’s thoughts are on it. Being one of the biggest fans of HBO, it seems only natural that I would be watching an episode of one of its newest shows…yet again. Yes, I am one of those people who watches episodes and movies multiple times without ever growing tired of them. The movie “The Holiday” with Jude Law? I watched it yesterday, the day before, and two days before that. This episode of the newsroom? Well, maybe I’m rewatching it simply to understand every line, but that’s the type of person I am.

When Game of Thrones was airing, I was hooked. I’m not even ashamed. I was introduced to it in March and still cannot get enough of it to this day. I’m even about to start reading the books. This may surprise some of you, but yes, I am that girl who is about to read Game of Thrones. The only thing keeping me from starting is the fact that my brother is currently reading the first book and taking his sweet time to finish it. I could buy my own version, but I am extremely frugal. Ergo, I may have to wait a few months…or years.

Anyway, I suppose I need to stop chatting away about Game of Thrones. (I even had Game of Thrones nights at my house where people brought different dishes each week). Back to The Newsroom, I can’t help but to wonder what other people think about this show. I wonder this mainly because I, myself, cannot figure out whether or not I even like it. Yes, I watch it every week, and like I have already mentioned, I may or may not watch the episodes multiple times…however, some episodes I love while others simply mesh together.

“Big news breaks when you least expect it.” – The Newsroom

To explain my point further, I will start with the first episode. The speech Jeff Daniels gives in the pilot episode sold me on the show entirely. Everything he said spoke to me; so many people in America are very cocky when they talk about our country (I’m American so I feel as though I can say that). If I hear “‘Merica!” one more time, I may snap. I grew up my entire life believing that the United States of America is the greatest country in the world, and maybe at the time it was. However, as I’ve grown up, I’ve been exposed to much more and have been able to form my own ideas about the world. The point Jeff Daniels’ character makes is that maybe America isn’t the “best” country in the world anymore. I have to say personally that after studying in Europe for a semester, there are many things that Americans need to be exposed to in their lives; those who shout out “‘Merica!” every other hour are usually those who haven’t taken the time to realize that.

Getting back to The Newsroom, I have more to say. I suppose the fact that I keep getting distracted from talking about the show explains my point exactly. At some points, I love the show, and at others, I am completely distracted. Like I was starting to say before, the speech Jeff Daniels gives in the beginning of the series is phenomenal. I did not want him to stop talking. The rest of the pilot episode was very exciting to watch,  too. However, the second and third episodes seem to mesh together to me. I cannot remember what happened specifically in each, but I do know what happened overall in the two. Does that say something that I cannot differentiate between two episodes…when I have currently only seen five of them? Who knows. I do know that the fourth episode got me back in the groove, so to say, mainly because of all of the events happening at the end while a Coldplay song was heard. Perhaps I’m just a sucker for Coldplay, but the song mixed with the plot as well as the emotions of the main characters after stating that they were the only news station to call things based on their ideas rather than the public opinion really gave the show points in my book.

While talking about the plot, it is hard to ignore two of the main relationships in the show. Those, if you have been watching it, should be obvious. I am talking about the characters Will McAvoy and Mackenzie MacHale as well as Jim Harper and Maggie Jordan. Will McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, is a very straightforward and blunt man known as one of the most watched anchors on television. His new Executive Producer, Ms. MacHale, is actually his ex-girlfriend who cheated on him with one of her ex-boyfriends. The ironic part is that she didn’t realize how much she loved him until after she cheated on. Now, jealousy and confusion absorb the newsroom.

However, they’re not the only two causing drama in the workplace. When thinking about the characters Jim Harper and Maggie Jordan, I begin to be frustrated. Jim Harper is new to the office under Ms. MacHale’s authority and has a “secret” crush on Maggie. I say secret in quotations simply to emphasize that from the pilot episode, the fact that he has an infatuation with Maggie is made apparent. As the episodes continue, it is obvious that Maggie has also thought about Jim in a “more than friends” manner. However, her boyfriend…yes boyfriend, Don, obviously stands in the way. To add suspense and drama, Jim tells Maggie to learn how to fight with Don rather than break up every time they argue, as the couple is known to do. Whenever I see Jim act inferior to Don, I become really frustrated. People who have no confidence in themselves really bother me; that may sound blunt, but it’s true. When people constantly put themselves down, I take it as them trying to gain sympathy and attention. People who look for sympathy only deter themselves from gaining confidence in what they have the potential to do. Jim needs to step up and say something to Maggie, especially when she and Don are clearly not right for one another.

To sum everything up, I am curious to hear how others are liking (or not liking) the new series. It seems to be very intellectual with how it incorporates situations that have happened in the past years, such as the BP oil spill, but I wonder how people are enjoying the plot and characters of the show. I will continue to watch it, but it doesn’t have the effect on me that Game of Thrones does; however, who am I to compare shows of entirely different genres? Let me know, and enter your email address on the right of this blog to receive a notification any time a post is created. Thanks again!

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RECapture YOUR CREATIVE SPARK.

“See if something inspires you. Do something with it.”

                                                                  – Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Are you a creative person trying to make your name in the world? Many people believe that if they take off and move to L.A., then they are bound to find the job of their dreams and have their name in the spotlight. However, if everyone has this same idea, then what does that do to an individual’s chances? I recently came in contact with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s production company called hitRECord which started in 2010. His organization speaks out to those same people trying to make their names and work recognized. HitRECord is an “open-collaborative production company” which uses the website not as a means of showcase, like YouTube and Vimeo, but rather as an online studio for those who choose to become involved. And just how hard is it to become involved? Well, not very hard at all. You simply go to the website http://www.hitrecord.org/ and click on the large green circle which encases the word, “Join!”

To break the process down for you a bit more, let me try to explain. So, like I mentioned, the company is directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt himself. Yes, the same Joseph Gordon-Levitt who you’ve seen in InceptionThe Dark Knight Rises500 Days of Summer, and the like. One of my personal favorites of his still to this day is Ten Things I Hate About You. Still love ya, Cameron. When I say he directs the website, I mean he starts a collaboration (or you, too, could start one) which ignites the creativity of “collaborators” all over the world. Now, these collaborators could be anyone, including again, you. They upload their material to the website, and other collaborators can download it, being a song, video, tomato, to-mah-toe, and remix it. When they say “remix”, they mean that the media is simply taken and then altered with one’s own personal touch. Then, this new altered piece is re-uploaded to the website for others to put their own unique spin on it.

“Remix isn’t theft; it’s just how we work together.”

                                                                   — Joseph Gordon-Levitt

After altercations have been made, final products can reach all-star status and be sold! Yes, you receive the moolah (or cash money) for your work, and your name will be associated with that piece of media. Finally! Am I right or am I right? The profit from the sold media is then split 50/50 (how fitting considering Mr. Gordon-Levitt’s filmography). HitRECord gains half of the profit while the other fifty percent is split among all of the collaborators who added to it. Yes, again, this could be you!

Now, what kind of media are they creating? There are opportunities for making songs, videos, books, poems, images and the like. One example of how collaborators use their creativity of text is the self-published book entitled, “The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories”, where believe it or not, people have joined together to create tiny stories in this tiny book. It was so successful that the company was given a three-book deal, so expect to see even more of these tiny stories. Any filmmakers out there like me? Well, they are now collaborating to adapt the tiny stories into tiny videos. (Okay, I’ll stop using the word “tiny.” Though, I have to admit, it does become a tiny bit addictive). In fact, if you want to see more of the items created by hitRECord, then go out and purchase your own version of RECollection, a book with many of their final products, including text, images, a DVD with videos, and a CD with songs. They also do a lot of live shows where items made on the website are presented as well as impromptu pieces made up right there on the stage. They have taken place at large venues such as the Sundance Film Festival and SXSW.

“We don’t make movies to make money. We make money to make more movies.”

                                                                                               — A Wise Man

In 2010, hitRECord sent out checks for a total of $49, 849.70. And that was only in their first year. Interested but still think it sounds too good to be true? Why not go to the website, http://www.hitrecord.org/, and find out for yourself? You can browse their featured records and as Joseph Gordon-Levitt says in his introduction video, “See if something inspires you. Do something with it.” For a complete run-down of how the whole process works, hear it from the man himself. The introdcution video that I just mentioned will be seen on the home page, and it does a perfect way of explaining it all in a fun and easy-to-understand manner. Plus, you get to watch Mr. Gordon-Levitt for four minutes and thirty-four seconds. That’s enough to reel me in. I apologize, that sounded creepy. Ahem…anyway, I highly recommend this new innovative idea so go ahead and give it a try!

**I was given permission by hitRECord.org to use the previous images.

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STILL THINK SOCIAL MEDIA’S JUST A FAD?

It’s amazing how quickly social networks have taken over the world of communications. They have made such an impact on the planet that companies and businesses have created brand new departments solely for the utilization of these websites. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter…the list goes on and on. Social media, along with human beings’ responses to it, have drastically changed how things work in the world.

I remember my first internship at an advertising agency in Atlanta, Georgia. While I was in the Broadcast Production department, a few interns were with Account Planning, Media Buying, and the like. The department which caught me off guard the most was the Social Media sector. It was insane to me that an entire segment of a professional company dedicated its time to websites such as Facebook and Twitter. I could not believe that the social networks I used on a daily basis had grown so large to completely transform part of a business. That is how much things have changed in the past decade; people are paid to sit at their desks and to regularly update a professional Facebook page in order to promote awareness and to spread word-of-mouth.

Because the social media trend began in my childhood, I have easily become accustomed to the whole idea. However, those much older than I am can sometimes be confused by the new technology. I grew up with a personal computer in my home which connected to the Internet via the telephone at the beginning of its public existence. Sure, I was about five years old when we bought our first home computer, and it may have taken about ten minutes to eventually sign-in online, but it was still a part of my younger years. Because of this, I quickly became used to turning on the computer, connecting it to the telephone line, and listening to the annoying static sound that one heard when trying to sign onto America Online (AOL). My parents missed a lot of important phone calls I’m sure, but with Instant Messaging, Emailing, and playing the Sims game online, that was just something that was bound to happen.

Those online sacrificed their use of the telephone, and vice versa. Eventually, this changed and things became a lot easier. Wireless Internet entered the world, and we are now even entering this “Web 3.0” era due to our ability to have the Internet at our fingertips with the help of our mobile phones. A lot of things have changed; I grew up with most of this, and even I did not have a Twitter until being forced to make one for my class on social media. I suppose I never wanted one because everyone else was obsessed with it. While I know Facebook had the same effect, I was one of those obsessed people so I didn’t mind. I guess I just never caught on to Twitter; I didn’t feel the need to be a part of yet another social network. I would simply be sharing the same information on both websites in my mind.

While I easily caught on to the new type of media, many people older than me still think it is all a bit ridiculous and do not understand how it could be used to increase sales for a business. There has been a longtime discussion about whether or not social media is simply a fad. Perhaps it will maintain its popularity for another decade or so and then fizzle out; however, I don’t think that will happen mainly due to its utilization by industries. Now that companies know how effective social media can be for their business, there is no way they will choose to abandon it now.

There is a very interesting video about the growth of social media and its enhancement of business production:

I do not own any rights to this video. Itt starts out by asking if social media is simply a temporary trend or a means necessary today to increase sales. It then lists some facts. One datum is that Facebook is used as part of a marketing strategy for at least 85% of companies today. That now explains why social media departments have been created in advertising agencies, like the one at which I interned. It also implies that ad agencies are not the only businesses with this new area of work. So many people have a Facebook page that “if Facebook were a country, it would be the 4th largest in the world.” That is ridiculous to think about, but then again, it makes sense. Mostly everyone I know has a Facebook page, and that is only a small percentage in relation to everyone in the entire world. When one thinks about it, it’s actually surprising that it would only be the 4th largest and not perhaps a bit bigger.

I remember when Facebook was a social network only available to college students. Those younger and older were not allowed to join (which always made me wonder what would happen to one’s Facebook once they were no longer in college…hmm…). I remember my sister, who is four years older than me, bragging about how she was part of this new thing called Facebook and that I wasn’t old enough to join. I also remember her complaining a few years later when I was creating my own page while only in high school. After their expansion from initially only allowing college students to also letting high school students join, it grew even bigger. The largest increase of social media activity occurred a couple of years later, when everyone and their dog could have a Facebook account (literally). I still feel weird when I log onto my account and have a notification that my own mom has commented on my status. It’s also a bit bizarre when my friend’s dog “comments” on one of my pictures. Yes, I was not lying when I said everyone and their dog has a Facebook. When I think of one of my friends logging onto an account with a dog as their profile picture, entering information such as, “I enjoy playing fetch,” and then writing on other people’s walls about how they want to go on a walk, it makes me cringe. I wish I had that much free time on my hands…

Getting back to the video I gave the link to, it then goes on to mention that 80% of employers use LinkedIn to recruit new employees. After reading that, it makes me want to log into my own account and immediately polish it up a bit. I’ve been told to become connected with teachers and employees on the social network because you never know if someone years from now will have a contact which could land you the job of your dreams. It’s true though, and that’s another reason why you should never burn any bridges. Who knows what will happen in the future and who you’ll need to lean on in times of need? People should be nice to everyone they meet and try to help them in any way possible, whether it be emotionally, financially, and the like. If avoiding those burnt bridges isn’t reason enough for you to do this, then think of karma. There’s good karma and bad karma, and whether you believe in it or not, it’ll come back around and find you. In that case, you better hope you did all you could to help others in the past.

The video then goes on to outline how long it took different social mediums to reach 50 million users. It begins with radio, which took 35 years, and continues to television taking 20 years. Things quickly jump when it says the Internet took only 5 years. Now, because of this obvious advancement from 20 to 5 years, one must wonder how long it took things directly associated with the Internet to reach those 50 million users. Well, you don’t have to wonder for too long, because after about 5 seconds, it tells you that in only 3 years, the iPod reached the goal. Because the iPod is popular due to its musical capabilities, one now understands how the Internet was able to influence this expansion due to its creation of iTunes and the Apple store, all which are only feasible with the Internet.

Now, this whole time we have been talking about how long it would take to reach 50 million people. Here’s a scary fact: Facebook reached twice as many users in only nine months. Yes, read that sentence again. It then poses a question: “Still think social media’s a fad?” They could have simply ended the video right there because to me, it is a rhetorical question. There is no doubt as to how powerful social media has become and how different the world is now in simply a decade. Who knows where we’ll be not only a decade from now, but even a few months or a years from now. The world is changing, not only due to technology, but also due to human beings’ responses to it. The only time people will be able to blame technology for being the sole reason for change will be when not a single human being does something to stimulate it further.

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DANNY BOYLE FOR THE GOLD.

Well, it’s that time again…the Summer Olympics will be in full swing today after the lighting of the torch. Of course, we all know what else there is to look forward to, and that is the opening ceremony. I heard a rumor that Mary Poppins and Lord Voldemort will be fighting at this year’s ceremony in London? Don’t quote me, like I said, I just heard some rumors going around. If it is true, I’m not sure how I feel about that. I mean, I love anything regarding the Harry Potter series, and Mary Poppins is a stand-up lady, but I just don’t see how the two could mesh. Will she injure him with her umbrella and pull something from her magic, endless bag? Then again, I like things that are unique and different, so I respect the idea in itself. My one condition: if there’s any correlation to the baby-like piece of Voldemort’s soul that is seen at the end of the seventh Harry Potter movie, then I will run for the hills. There’s no need for that creepy thing to be seen again.

Regardless, it will be in London, so I really can’t complain. As I’ve already made apparent, I am obsessed with London and would love to move there (why do their Visa regulations have to be so strict? Someone like me and choose to sponsor me please!) Ahem, like I was saying, the opening ceremony is bound to be exciting. However, I can only imagine how nervous Danny Boyle is, he being the Oscar-winning director in charge of the preparations. Not only is the ceremony alone very overwhelming, but this ceremony is the first since that in Beijing , which we can all remember as being out of this world:

(I do not own the video above; I am simply using it from YouTube for blog purposes).

So, how does he compete with that?! According to one news source, he is treating his task like a movie. He is creating it as a drama rather than a sporting event. It makes sense: he is an Oscar-winning director; movies are what he knows, and directing is what he does best. I believe he has his head on his shoulders, especially because of his great accomplishments prior to this. Yes, he is the same man who directed “Slumdog Millionaire,” so I’m pretty sure we can all agree that we can expect great things from him. Having a Telecommunications and Film degree, I am fascinated by the whole idea. I want to watch the opening ceremony and see if it feels like the opening of a sporting event or if it feels like a dramatic play or movie. He’s using ideas from some of Shakespeare’s works, specifically “The Tempest,” for the performance, so of course my curiosity only increases.

One of the things that made me fall in love with the movies is their ability to take you into the story and cause you to forget about everything else around you. To me, my favorite movies pull me into the plot so much that I have no care in the world at that moment. For about ninety or so minutes, my biggest concern is how the protagonist is going to accomplish his or her goal and why the director used certain shots to portray that message. Yes, nerd alert, when I watch television, films, and the like, I not only take in what is happening in the story but also in the production of it. I was recently given a bucket list of movies that all filmmakers should watch at some point in their lives, and I could not have been more excited to get started.

So, to pull everything together, I am very interested and excited about today’s opening ceremony. I remember when I was studying in London, I walked out of the National Gallery of London and stumbled upon a huge wooden crate in the center of Leicester Square. No one knew what was inside of it, but it was roped off and seemed important. There was commotion that something connected to the Olympics would be unveiled that night. As much as I wanted to see the unmasking of this mysterious item, my friends and I couldn’t make it.

A few days later, I walked past Leicester Square again and took the above picture. It was a countdown structure that would remain in the area until the Olympic Games began.  Notice how it says “only” 483 days, 4 hours, 1 minute, and 31 seconds until the beginning of the Olympics. This makes me even more depressed to realize how long it has actually been since I was forced to leave London…however it is also very neat as we near this opening ceremony. I was there the day the mysterious box with the countdown appeared in the historical city. Everything I like will be included: performances, sporting events, a renowned Oscar-winning director, and of course, London. Prayers go to those who have been working for months upon months for today’s opening ceremony. Hats off to you, Mr. Boyle, and God speed.

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MELISSA IN A NUTSHELL.

Ello poppets! Thanks for showing your interest. Basically, I just want to start off by introducing myself and giving a short summary about the purpose of this blog. First of all, there are a few things you need to know about me:

1). I love everything about film-making, photography and traveling. (I’m especially interested in anything to do with London, ever since I studied abroad there for a semester).

2). One of my life goals is to take part in the production of an independent film and then view it at a festival.

3). I have also been obsessed with  penguins (I don’t know why) and Conan O’Brien for some time now (see below).

4). I’m afraid of feet…even my own. …yes. Ahem, anyway, enough about me.

So, why a blog? Well, to put it simply, I like to write about things I like. Now, was that simple enough? The things I like to write about the most are traveling, media production, and photography (with a strong liking for street art, the classy and respected kind, not graffiti on a wall). I will also feature posts about different organizations and ideas concerning things other than strictly media production. For example, I took a class on social media and believe it’s important to stay on top of it in today’s world, so basically, there may be a wide range of topics, but they will all be concerning communications, photography, and, of course, travel. Also, I have been emailed by other bloggers asking to write guest posts for the blog, so why not share the love?

So, that’s it in a nutshell. Enjoy, poppets! Also, any comments/questions/tomato/to-mah-to are welcome. Please hit “Follow” on the right side to receive updates about new posts as they’re written, and feel free to leave comments. P.S. see Conan and me below!

For further information, please visit:

Online Portfolio & Website: http://melissamsmith.webs.com/

Photography Portfolio: http://melissasmith91089.wix.com/photography

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