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4 alternatives to screen time while sheltering in place with kids

4 alternatives to screen time while sheltering in place with kids 610 345 Alicia East

Pre shelter-in-place, I was one of the irritatingly-principled parents who seriously limited screen time to special occasions like a quarterly family movie night. Admittedly, I also found it useful here and there when I noticed smoke from an overcooked bird cascading out of the oven or it felt like the whole house was going to crumble into a heap around me as a result of the sheer volume inside it. In this new reality, as a working parent with 3 littles (all 4 and under), I feel the constant temptation to put the older two in front of a screen so can get a little time in front of mine. I am very grateful for the various sizes of square babysitters I can turn to at any moment. 🤷🏻‍♀️

It’s not all about me though. I want my kids to become fully-functioning human beings with the capacity to do something productive with their boredom, energy, and creativity. Also, I’m fairly confident they’ll still benefit from knowing how to read in our new reality.

3 WAYS TO MAKE THE DAYS A LITTLE MORE ORDERLY, HAPPY, AND PRODUCTIVE—FOR KIDS AND PARENTS ALIKE

  1. Make a plan the night before. My husband and I used to have a nightly routine of packing lunches and bags for the following day. We’ve replaced that with planning activities and deciding which blocks of time we will each cover with kids or work, respectively. We never follow the plan exactly, but it sure does help to have a guideline. Since our daughter is learning letters, we start the day by spelling out a word (our theme for the day) with magnetic letters. The younger one identifies the color of the magnets. I have noticed the kids are actually happier when we have a structure (even if it’s a loose one) instead of letting the day just run itself.
  2. Cook together: We enjoy this Kids Cook Real Food program to support cooking together in the kitchen. Yes, you can just wing it, but I have found the structure of this very helpful since my kids are small and need to be guided carefully rather than just set loose with a knife. It also provides guidance for working with multiple age/skill levels at one time so you can be in the kitchen with toddlers (no joke!) all the way up to older kids. I love that it gives them some independence in the kitchen and motivates them to be participants rather than just recipients at mealtime.
  3. Garden: As we mentioned last week, gardening is having a moment. Between sparse grocery store shelves and more time at home, people are growing food for food’s sake as well as for therapeutic reasons. Why not get the kids involved? Of course they love to water the plants, but you can take it further with activities they will learn from, too. This online resource is geared specifically toward kids.
  4. Water day: Each of the above requires your full attention. A water day, on the other hand, is a great option because a) kids love it; b) some water activities are independent enough that you might be able to catch up on some communication or just get a moment to think; and c) it sets them up for a very long nap. And nap times are more valuable than gold right now.

BOTTOM LINE

I realize that every person’s situation is different. Some are still working the front lines or don’t have a partner to share the load. And some will have to let the screen be the babysitter just to be able to keep feeding the babies. Whatever your situation is, I hope you’ll be patient with yourself and those around you.

As long and trying as this time seems, we will never get it back. Yesterday, my son woke up from his nap and said, “I need some snuggling.” It was a rare moment with just the middle child while the other two were sleeping. I had things to do, sure. I always do. But I left my phone in the other room and sat with him. I told my restless legs–which threatened to carry me away–to be still. I told myself: This 2-year-old in your arms is not an obstacle to all you have to do: Being with him is all you have to do in this moment. So I was. And sure enough, a short time later, he was wriggling out of my arms and on to the next thing. I’m just glad I wasn’t the first one to move on. During this shelter in place, I am determined to look back and know that I did what I could to provide shelter (haven, security, love) for those in my care.

3 new skills to learn for a new reality

3 new skills to learn for a new reality 2500 1667 Alicia East

We can only guess what things will look like on the other side of this. And for me, I can’t spend too much brain space guessing. Not only has my history of predicting the future not proven very accurate, it also takes energy and time away from what’s in front of me in my actual world.

What we do know is that some things simply won’t be the same. Even as restrictions ease up in some places, the virus is still raging and the world is still changing. Some of the changes will stick. Doctor Fauci recommends ending handshaking permanently, for example. The business world was already moving rapidly toward telework and online interaction. Now, you might say it’s Zoom-ing there even quicker.

So what can we do right now to prepare for what’s ahead? The combination of being home more often and navigating a changing world makes now a great time to learn a skill for the new normal. We’ve identified 3 that will serve you well in both business and health.

These 3 skills set you up to adapt to a changing world

Podcasting

As a fairly new medium that democratizes the process of getting heard, it’s been compared to the blogging of 15 years ago. Major bonus during a pandemic: You can podcast from home without fancy gear, other people, or permission from anyone. Also like blogging, podcasting likely won’t be a big money-maker in itself. But if you can get established and find your niche, you can build a platform for your work and products. And a platform? Well that, of course, is invaluable.

I learned the basics–and met some great people virtually–with Seth Godin’s podcast fellowship. It was affordable and got me started with the basic foundational technical knowledge and necessary equipment. It can be as simple as a computer (had it) and a headset (30 bucks). The website says it will be offered again but there are similarly-priced courses available elsewhere. If you want to make a career of producing podcasts, you may want to invest in something that goes deeper. If you’re ready to drop nearly 3K, consider The Podcast Engineering School which will take you deep into the finer points. Keep in mind that you may end up racking up the tab on the other tools of the trade. Think mixers, boom mics and more.

Cyber Security

Hackers and scammers are not new, but their tactics evolve to every new situation. They’ll come after your credit card info, your identity, and your stimulus money. They can seriously blow your life up. Rest assured (?), if it can happen to Equifax, the government, and Zoom, it can surely happen to you. Becoming a security expert is good for your own financial world, of course. In addition, being able to offer security advice to your clients or employer makes you that much more attractive. Whether or not you’re consulting as a security expert, just being savvy enough not to fall for a scam (like this one, which took a Shark Tank judge for nearly 400K) could save your job and reputation. Udemy offers The Complete Cyber Security Course: Hackers Exposed, along with a boatload of other courses to solve nearly any business challenge.

Gardening

While you may not think it’ll directly benefit your work, knowing how to garden feeds mind, body, and soul, which pays dividends in every other area. It also helps the environment and ensures you can put food on the table even when the supply chain gets interrupted. P.S. You can’t work if you can’t eat.

You can learn about gardening in any number of ways and many of them are free. It’s also a rabbit hole you could spend your life getting lost in. As a gardener with a couple of years (and a million google searches) under my belt, this particular course by Ron Finley (the gangster gardener) has really piqued my interest. I mean, the man calls air “gangster as f%#k.”

Your investment in Masterclass also gets you access to everything from basketball to acting. You name a skill, it’s probably there. And it’s taught by, well, a master. Even if you don’t plan to become a professional tennis player, you might enjoy learning about it directly from Serena Williams. Surely some insight from one of the greats will benefit you and enrich your life.

Bottom line

Netflix and home haircut tutorials can only take so much of your time. If you’re ready to be mentally stimulated instead of just entertained, there are endless opportunities. What skills have you taken the time to learn with all this extra time at home?

cabin and foggy night | Crew Connection

Last-minute tips to turn your house into a horror set

Last-minute tips to turn your house into a horror set 4608 3072 Dani Lyman

That time of the year has finally arrived! Crisp fall leaves, foggy nights, a deranged serial killer hiding behind every corner. It’s Halloween! This is the perfect time of year to bring your love for theatrics to life by adding some spooky accessories to your front porch or using the natural ambiance to shoot that horror film you’ve been dying to finish!

Whether you want to film your masterpiece or just scare your neighbors or, here are a few last-minute tips to turn your Halloween into a horror movie!

FOGGY AMBIANCE

When it comes to Halloween, fall leaves tossed by a slight breeze give the eerie impression that perfectly merges innocence and creepiness. However, if you live in a state with unpredictable weather like I do in Colorado (I currently have a foot of snow stacked in my backyard) and there’s no depending on the weather, then there’s one easy and fantastic solution: a fog machine!

Available at any Halloween store and even grocery stores this time of year, this easy-to-use product will quickly set the ambiance for a perfect fall evening ready for some haunted fun.

No time to run to the store before the little devils and princesses come prancing to your doorstep? Here’s a quick and easy dry ice recipe that can be added to caldrons or hidden in the background for a spooky witch effect.

Sounds Effects

Squeaky doors, shattering glass, and wood creaking under footsteps. Nothing makes us crawl out of our skin like creepy sound effects. So, whether you’re working on your next indie horror or just want to frighten the bejeezus out of the neighborhood kids, sound effects are a MUST! You can purchase all the decrepit or haunting screams you want (some even downloaded for free online) and make your own playlist. Remember: Using license-free sounds makes it easy to throw your video masterpiece on YouTube without any restrictions.

Another last-minute fun Halloween toy to creep out the neighbors is this motion sensor you can find on Amazon or most Spirit Halloween stores.

Visual Effects Makeup

Back in the day, I was an Assistant Director and an actor/zombie extra on a low-budget horror film filmed in Bisbee, AZ. It has all the mediocre acting and confusing plotlines you’d expect from a C horror Western/ Zombie movie, but man, did our Visual Effects Makeup Artist KILL IT! Every zombie, bite mark, and moment of flesh tearing looked nearly realistic. It was ridiculously fun and gory to watch. Whether you’re making a mini horror flick for your Insta or you want to truly impress you’re friends with your costume, do not slack on effects makeups! It truly wows and disgusts your audience.

To get that great deep, dark red that looks more realistic try this fake blood recipe posted by Studiobinder.com. If you’re looking for something a little tastier, you can even throw some chocolate syrup in the mix!

If you’re not too squeamish, check out this amazing video by make-up artist Chloe Morello who reveals the secrets behind ripped and torn skin. Ouch!

This is how I will be answering the door this Halloween. Poor little kids.

About Crew Connection

Here at Crew Connection, we put many awesome marketing tools right at your fingertips. Feel free to get your demo reels, stills, gear, awards, and more in front of the biggest clients all over the world—all for free. At Crew Connection, we always pay video and post-production service providers within 30 days of getting your invoice so your work & your life aren’t interrupted. Need live assistance or want to add great jobs to your pipeline? Our Crew Connection film crew coordinators are on call around the clock. Sign in today at Crew Connection, call 303-526-4900, or email info@crewconnection.com.

girl with MTV Tshirt | Crew Connection

The death and resurrection of music videos (and why you should produce one)

The death and resurrection of music videos (and why you should produce one) 1500 2246 Dani Lyman

Despite the fact that MTV and VH1 have devolved from boundary-pushing, career-launching creative networks into conveyer belts of reality shows, music videos are not extinct. Directors are still breaking barriers and making history. And millennials ARE watching: just not on TV anymore.

As a producer or director interested in building your portfolio, creating music videos is usually a less expensive alternative to indie films and a more creative endeavor than corporate videos. However, with the video landscape constantly changing, you have to consider a few questions. Are music videos still worth producing? Are they worth the financial investment? Where will they live and, most importantly, will millennials watch them?

First, a look back

  • MTV killed the video star: When I first started film school in 2006 my ultimate goal was to become a sick music video director who used technology to push musicians’ visions to the limit and to reach my potential as a brilliant creative genius. Unfortunately, during that era, MTV was revamping their brand and social media hadn’t quite hit its stride. Music videos, for several years, became lost in the shuffle and industry insiders were on the verge of naming it a lost art. And then, something dramatic happened.
  • Apps took over the world! Musicians began reaching new audiences through social media platforms and direct online marketing. Creative videos presented an excellent opportunity to recruit new fans and increase loyalty from old ones. Music videos resurged as an attention-grabbing avenue for experimentation while allowing bands to reach more people across more platforms than ever.

While extinction once seemed likely, the evolution continued instead

To stay up on the trends, the content of videos changed as well. Gone are the days of sexy female singers dancing in a leather one-piece to keep the viewer hooked. Millennials are so inundated with risqué and controversial content that hair-ography doesn’t provide the entertainment value it used to. Instead, we’ve watched the content evolve into abstract artistic performances that are unusual and out of the box (think anything Lady Gaga did before “A Star is Born”). And yes, music videos are still relevant.

With social media, tabloids, and numerous entertainment gossip shows constantly overexposing artists, the music video has become an art form musicians can hide behind. It is an outlet where they can express themselves and connect with their fans and share their story without even showing their face. Consider Rihanna’s decision to barely appear in Lemon. Instead of making another expected video that emphasizes her sex appeal, she showcased an amazing dancer. The vibe, intensity, and tone were perfect for the song and caught people’s attention. To the tune of over 100 million views on YouTube to date.

Up & comers

The music video not only allows viewers to connect to their favorite musicians, it also helps the up-and-comers get the attention they deserve. Through social media, music apps like Spotify and Pandora, and, of course, YouTube—the god of the video world itself—new artists are getting more exposure than ever.

For fans, the experience of falling in love with a new artist is incomplete if their new single isn’t accompanied by a music video that supports their brand. It doesn’t even have to be fancy, eccentric or expensive. Just check out this smooth and simple video from hip hop artist Jidenna. One easy location, one great visual effect to tie the tone together and one great performer—that’s all you need to create a music video that tells a story and hooks new fans.

The case for making a music video

  • People aren’t watching like they used to, they’re watching more! Aside from satisfying artistic expression and finding a new home through social media and apps, a big question still remains: Are people really watching music videos like they did before? The answer is a resounding NO! According to this article, Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” has 6.41 billion views. BILLION. People are not watching music videos like they used to. They are watching them MORE. They are also sharing with their friends and posting on social media more. And in more countries than ever.
  • The risk is low and opportunity for creative expression is high. The biggest question to any business-minded individual is whether the financial investment is worth the risk. In the case of producing music videos, the answer is a resounding YES! The potential to reach a widespread audience and the current acceptance of abstract creativity makes right now the perfect time to invest your time and talent in music videos.

Now all you need is to find a talented unknown band with the financial backing and commitment to a project. While we can’t help you with that, we can help with a lot of other things—like getting you in front of high-quality clients via our online database of searchable, vetted crews.

About Crew Connection

Crew Connection puts a suite of marketing tools at your fingertips. Get your demo reels, stills, gear, awards, and more in front of the biggest clients all over the world—for free. At Crew Connection we pay video and post production providers within 30 days of receiving your invoice so your work and your life are never interrupted. Need live assistance or want to add quality jobs to your pipeline? Our crew coordinators are on call around the clock. Sign in to Crew Connection, call 303-526-4900, or email info@crewconnection.com.