Mister Rogers, MaxFunCon & Me
In many ways, “Mister Rogers & Me” began with a button my mother found in some gift shop somewhere. It read, simply, “PBS Mind In An MTV World.” While the binary is less-and-less applicable (PBS airs rock shows on Friday nights, and MTV airs its fair share of documentaries), it created a distinct filter through which to sift and sort my values, influences and passions.
My love of public broadcasting, of course, extends to radio, especially pop culture purveyors Ira Glass, Kurt Andersen, and Jesse Thorn.
I’ve been a listeners of Jesse’s for years. He was an early and immediate advocate for our film. And continues to be. So when I pitched him to participate in his first-ever MaxFun Con East — “A gathering of creative people who wish to be more awesome” — (on the steps of his home as we were leaving our interview) he was immediately game. The event’s gonna be bananas: Jonathan Ames, Kurt Anderson, Dick Cavett (DICK CAVETT!), John Hodgman, Kevin Allison and on and on and on — all hanging out in this immensely cool, somewhat “Shining”-like hotel in the Poconos! Seriously, scan this lineup: How did I make the cut!?!
Well, the trick was to come up with something to talk about in my “Activity Session.” Sure, Chris and I made a film (over ten, long years) of which we’re very proud. And it did pretty well for a couple of novice filmmakers with day jobs. I could talk about that. And show a little bit of the movie. But with what context, exactly? Enter Bullseye producer Nick White, who helped me craft this angle:
Don’t Quit Your Dayjob: 7 Things I Learned Writing, Producing, and Directing a Documentary While Running MTV News with Benjamin Wagner
You’ve got a great idea for a new creative project, but with a 9 to 5 job, where’s the time to get it started? Benjamin Wagner managed to write, direct, and produce a documentary titled Mister Rogers & Me, all while holding down a career as senior vice president of MTV News and he believes that there is no reason you can’t do the same with your own dream and your own job. In this session, Wagner will explain why you don’t have to drop everything just to get a new project off the ground, and reveal how creativity can peacefully coexist alongside the daily grind.
If you wanna come, it’s gonna be, well, awesome. You can sign up for Activity Sessions here. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have seven things to figure out…