Jeff Gere – Making waves: A Thinking Bigger Blueprint with Television and Radio

Jeff Gere Master storyteller wows another audience

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How you can Think Big with radio and TV.

A BLUEPRINT: I offer a blueprint based on my evolution here in Hawaii mapping a progression from a teller to a story producer of a Festival, a radio, and TV series. I believe it is vital for us to moving storytelling into the blood stream of the mainstream.

MY OPINION: Storytelling is like folk music before Peter Paul & Mary. Its self-image loves small and intimate, is largely adverse and suspicious of media and documentation while the REST of the Web Entertainment World explodes bland content in an ever-growing variety of methods and technologies. Content is King, storytelling is a DEEP WELL of PROFOUND CONTENT, but it/we are NOT reaching the fast-food masses. Our self-image does not serve us. I believe there’s a need for Storytelling. We have an opportunity: We who drink in this well ARE the ones to bridge this gap, get OVER our techno-phobia, and feed this rich story mana to the Masses. OK, you say, but HOW?

“The First impediment is self-imposed” Helen Keller.

A FLOOD BEGINS WITH A DROP: (you): Start with YOURSELF. Do your homework, find your Voice & polish coal into a jewel with your tongue. Tell tell tell tell and tell: THEN get biz card, resume, and website. Start small and build up.
HOW? Look around, step out the door, and make new friends.

RIPPLES: SWAPS & GUILDS are the story community core, the cells of our body, the nexus points for giving, friendly, low risk, social tells with others who share the story calling and mission. Guilds find & nourish talent. Folks try things out and make friends and allies. I encourage groups to dare to arrange for feedback (for those who wish to grow faster) to stimulate growth.

GUILD “Shows” introduce the mechanics of production (overcoming fear, “small” self-concept, email lists, get a venue and publicity, making a program and talent line-ups; staging, money in and out, organizing volunteers).
Why is RECORDING these wonderful events so often ignored?

WAVES: RECORDING (CD/ DVD): “You’re a storyteller- gimme your CD?” You need to have one to give. Period. If you believe in your talent, know you can hold a room, and have developed a program, why NOT catch lightning on a disc? It’s NOT technically difficult, yes you can, and you must. The CD is a seed that can speak for you far away, open doors, and move people. It’s an experiential business card. Recording pushes you to learn about mics, levels, editing, packaging, and distributing. Recording reveals your bad and good habits too, stimulating evolution. Add it to your list for big performances. Look at them as diary entries- make one each year for a century.

OK, you say, but HOW? Hiring a studio is costly, but EVERY computer can record sound now. Learn how. Step in a door at the Public or College Radio Station, or go to the local high school or college technology lab. Look for a Techie, find help, make friends. Learn! Start and get better.

NEW FORMS YouTube and the Web are open to us ALL NOW: the audience is The WORLD! How do you get attention? Join NSN, storyteller.net, CD Baby, YouTube. Tell people. Feed the email list. Put your stuff up for downloadings on www.itales.com, Make a podcast!

You say HOW, I say, go find new friends to help you. The truth: technology is frustrating at first, but you get better and build the capacity to infect more people with the virus of story.

SWELLS: FESTIVALS: I want the BEST talent in the BEST listening environment possible. I want to GO BIG with a BIG SPLASH and HUGE CROWD! I want it recorded. Festivals imply higher risks and thrills than Guild Shows, but involve the same issues (publicity, line-up, recording, sponsors, budget & fundraising.) EMPOWER ING TRUTHS: Businesses want to reach the public. You attract a unique population and can help them. MEDIA: Approach with positive pleasant persistence. Make friends, call back again, write the article ideas out for them. Your attitude: “This event is the THIS WEEK’s most HAPPENING, ELECTRIC, UNIQUE event! I’m here to help you!” Know your talent (I gotta see/hear ‘em . I live in Hawaii, so media (web, CD, DVD) is essential.

TALK STORY FESTIVAL is a three night FREE public celebration held in an auditorium in a seaside park in Honolulu each October since 1989. Sponsored by Oahu’s Parks Department (I’m the Drama Specialist), It features 8 of Hawaii’s best tellers each night (20 minutes each) with a few mainland talents willing to come for the adventure (not the paycheck). I have a core of GREAT talent. I take a few risks (rappers and slam poets, cultural oddities of some kind). I use the theater lighting and add some with a light tech who colors the stage with the tale. I light independently the sign interpreter. I have four cameras feeding into a portable video van and project the editing onto the wall by the stage. The last few years I have an improvisation wizard on piano playing with some of the tellers. I’m the MC too. Press is usually quite good (radio, TV, newspaper coverage and announcements). The Festival forced me to learn to do these things. There’s elation and frustration each year, I seem to have a target on my shirt. It’s hard and demanding- that’s why I love it. It forces me to improve and evolve. Many many people hear great tells out of my efforts. I am grateful.

SWELLS: TOURS: Solo & group tours are a unique way to take a vacation. Getting gigs has lots to do with emails, photos, links to websites. Library and private schools fund it, with public tells for fun and recording. Tour with talented friends and the quality will remain high. Avoid needy talents. Fatigue is a factor, the clock defines eating, resting and sleeping. It’s not for everyone.

OCEANS: RADIO is the intimate theater of the mind, a one-on-one conversation with a million listeners, PERFECT for storytelling, and technically easier than TVĀ¦ but HOW? When I realized I could take the audio off a decade of good Talk Story video recordings, I began organizing cuts into themes. I asked people I respected to share material (CDs) and aired what I loved. With a small budget (first from Parks Department, then with a grant to pay an audio engineer) I started experimenting. It took 18 months to find a form, and we aired Talk Story Radio shows on three stations to 13,000 listeners a week for two years . So, start locally, RECORD tells, grow better. Approach your college, low-band, Public, and/or commercial stations (sponsor) for time on the air. Talk to your Guild. Once you start to air, expand the audience with publicity, publicity, publicity (email newletters). Go hear our podcasts at www.talkstory radio.com! after many frustrations, a friend set me up for podcasting. And after several mistakes, I can do it now. Go hear- IT’s FREE & AVAILABLE!

VIDEO is picture rooted to audio. Technically, its more challenging, Storytelling: best Live vs. controlled environment of the Studio (synthesis!). I have long contemplated what TV can add to the energy of a live performance (and visa-versa). We can use this media.

Story TV (from Talk Story Festival) uses College interns, pro directors (paid), I edit & air on Public Access TV (funded by law from cable franchise)(Big Media Threat). Soon I’ll GIVE stories to the Dept. of Education TV to air between their shows.
Commercial TV HAD requirements to do some non-commercial shows. Now? To air on Commercial TV, you can sell a show to the station OR buy time with your own sponsors.

NATIONAL About time we had a National Story Radio (Festivals with quality recordings, tellers invited/involved, sponsors (NSN, Int Storytell Center, Stllg University Programs, Kid Tellings, regional tellers. HUGE!)
Hawaii Spookies Special & Hawaii TV Series , sponsors (DVD)
New CDs (record, 2 track editing, Photoshop) Yakkity Yak, Twisted Luvinz
Live stream of Talk Story #20, Spread Blueprint, build for National TV show.

More on Jeff on his website: http://www.jeffgere.com

4 Comments

  • By Sean, May 4, 2008 @ 2:50 pm

    LOL. Being handed a dollar does not make one a professional storyteller. Anyone can get paid to tell stories. Pros know when to not take the dollar.

    Jeff’s TalkStory Festival should be required attendance for anyone who puts on a festival.

  • By Norah, May 7, 2008 @ 11:22 pm

    Thanks Jeff – You really talk the talk ! And make so much sense. And you walk the walk for sure. Your podcasts are wonderful and I am inspired to do more hearing you. Thanks, Eric for your show- it makes my day and helps keep my dreams alive.

  • By Tim, May 10, 2008 @ 12:39 am

    Eric,
    this is the kind of big picture thinking and paradigm shifting stuff that I listen to the podcast for. Thank you thank you thank you. Required listening for producers and performers.

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  1. Bringing Storytelling to Mainstream Audiences | The Art of Storytelling Show — August 3, 2013 @ 8:57 pm

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