My New Project Launches: ReelChanges.org

1st May 20087:50 am

May 01, 2008

We launched ReelChanges.org today.

I could not be more excited or more proud.

It’s the project I’ve been dropping hints about in this space for months. Given the trailblazing nature of our venture, I never knew exactly how much I should say or write about what we were doing before we were actually ready to do it. My big fear, of course, was that someone else or some other group would get a jump start on us in organizing the community of users whose participation is critical to our early success.

But thanks to a high-profile launch at today’s well-attended conference and blog posts by two of those present (here and here) ReelChanges site registrations are already taking off. In fact, we could not be off to a better start. I feel like ten thousand pounds have been lifted off my shoulders. I may even start returning social phone calls again soon.

The demo was well-attended. I could almost see the wheels turning in some of their heads as they were stimulated by what they saw and by what ReelChanges could mean for them and for journalism.

It was also an incredible relief to finally be able to “show our work” after so many months.

So, what have we created?

A unique new online non-profit-based business model that we believe has the power to help preserve and positively transform the business and practice of journalism by modernizing the profession for the digital interconnected age.

On a technical level, our basic goal, what I originally set out to do, was to figure out how we could use the exact same web-based, digital technologies that are destroying the old business model that financed the creation of high-quality journalism to construct a new business model capable of taking its place. So that is what our ReelChanges team has done. Version 1.00 anyway. And in the process, we also discovered something quite remarkable. We could get the job done, in fact the very best way to get the job done, would involve substantially reducing and redefining the role of traditional media industry gatekeepers such as publishers, network owners and advertisers. Put simply, what ReelChanges enables is shifting more of the power in the journalism industry where it rightfully belongs: into the hands of those who produce the journalism.

Several people deserve special thanks. ReelChanges board member Andy Hertzfeld continues to generously provide critical advice and leadership in the development of our user interface. Filmmaker Yoav Potash has helped guide our efforts from day one. My close friend Dick Alexander’s support has been instrumental. And, of course, there is the entire dev team affiliated with the always remarkable Texity , Inc. in Pune, India, Chicago and Canada led by Swati Jalnapurkar, as well as the rest of our board and all our other volunteers and supporters, all of whom we’ll eventually find a way to honor on the site. We have an incredibly diverse, talented and hard-working team that is full of creative, dedicated whip smart people who put in long, 12 and 15 hour days when needed. You know who you are. I could not be more deeply proud of every one of you or more grateful. The best things users find when they visit ReelChanges.org came from this wonderful team.

Two other heartfelt notes of thanks.

The first, to Tom Murphy, the founder and editor of Redwood Age, who graciously jumped to my assistance when my laptop lost its connection to the Internet right before my demo. Tom quickly installed the flash player needed for the demo and lent me his computer for the demo. I am not sure what I would have done without him. He also has a great, smartly targeted website and the same general focus and philosophy as mine, that quality always wins in the end.

And finally, a grateful word to a remarkably kind and generous new friend, J.D. Lasica. J.D. wrote one of the first blog posts about my demo. He has also been a key supporter of ReelChanges since the moment he first heard about our project. He even offered to provide free hosting services for us through his groundbreaking and highly-respected Ourmedia.org. J.D. is also one of the forces behind Bid4Vid, an innovative new venture with many of the same goals as ReelChanges, including helping create jobs for journalists and filmmakers, although with a different strategy. It was wonderful to meet J.D. in person at the demo. He’s someone I have admired for a long time and, if you just look over his site, is clearly a lot more than just brilliant.

So please, help us spread the word: ReelChanges.org is open for business. Let’s see if we can change the world one film at a time.