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I Want to Give You $50,000 and Be Your Mentor for LIFE

UPDATE: WE HAVE A WINNER!!!! Shopify’s Build a Business competition is OVER and THE WINNER IS… Kevin Mack of Tatsup! For more information on Kevin and Tatsup, head to Shopify’s blog post announcement. Needless to say, I’m stoked to be able to be able to bring him to NYC, slap a chunk of change into his hand, and give him my advice every step of the way (or for as long as he wants it ;) )

Thanks to all the competitors who entered and make sure to congratulate the rest of the winners and I’ll be sure to keep you updated on how Kevin’s mentorship with me goes and how he grows his business with the help he’ll be getting from me & Shopify. ShoutOut to Shopify for helping make this happen.

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chase jarvis mentor build a business shopify

We are living in the Age of the Artist. Never before in history has it been this easy for creatives to create, for artists to make their art. Yet still the masses are filled with those who postpone their artistic dreams. I say the worst thing you can do is postpone.

But some people just need a bigger carrot. So I went hunting and found a prize for you. Actually, I teamed up with my friends at Shopify and am offering YOU a chance at a check for $50,000 and my promise to be your mentor for life (or until you kick me out). Yes. This actually means we will be friends.

If you’re late to the party, here’s how to enter [in 3 easy steps]:

1. Go to the Shopify Build a Business page
2. Choose your category (I’m mentoring in the Art & Photography category, but choose what suits your artistic dream)
3. Start selling and kick your business into gear.

I figure the end game can only be 1 of 2 options:

1. You win the contest, $50,000 and a mentor for life; OR
2. You don’t win, but you’ve built that business you’ve always dreamed of, and it’s now a REAL THING that makes you money and channels all that creativity you never knew (or perhaps always knew?) you had.

If ever there was a win-win scenario, this is it.

So you’re not into Art & Photography? Fine – I don’t care. I means just as much to me that you follow your dreams. Read on, because Shopify certainly has your interest category covered. Maybe you’re into Music, Electronics & Gadgets, Jewelry & Crafts, Health & Beauty, Food & Beverage, Fashion & Apparel, or Sports & Recreation. Any of those ring some bells?

Your full mentor list to choose from depending on the above category.

// Lil Jon (hip hop legend)
// Tim Ferris (4 hour everything)
// Tina Eisenberg (aka swissmiss)
// Selita Ebanks (model & health star)
// Gary Vaynerchuk (wine & food guru)
// Damond John (founder of FUBU – star of shark tank)
// Mark Cuban (billionaire entrepreneur/owner of Dallas Mavericks
// Arianna Huffington (media maven)
// and yours truly

Here’s how you win:

If you start a business with Shopify and have the most sales in your category over a particular window between NOW and MAY 2014, then you win. Pretty simple. The longer, more detailed version of all that is here on the Shopfiy site. There is plenty of time to kick ass and sell your heart out, but the time to start is NOW. Oh ya…if you win, I’ll fly you back to NYC and had you the 50 GRAND myself.

DigitalRev TV uses a GoPro to Fake my Hasselblad Masters Photo

Each time I have the good fortune to work with DigitalRev TV and my friend Kai Man Wong something memorable happens.

For example, you might recall the time that Kai and DigitalRev TV dragged me around Hong Kong with a Lego Camera on one of their infamous CheapCamera Challenges. The highlights included surprise runway models, aggravated kung fu fighters and eating pig’s anus on the street. Most recently Kai and his hilarious crew parodied my Facebook profile photo for Fake A Big Shot. The resemblance was, um, striking?

I decided it was time to turn the tables.

I showed up in Hong Kong to give Kai and the DigitalRev crew a taste of their own medicine. A CheapCamera Challenge of my design: To re-create a photo I shot with the Hasselblad H3D. This was a $25,000 piece of equipment in 2007 when I shot the photo. I gave him 8 hours … and a GoPro Hero3PLUS ($399) to get it done.

Here’s how the the final product compares to my original. What do you think? Check out the video above to see how he did it.

Chasejarvis_DigitalRevTV

Thanks to Kai and the whole DigitalRev TV crew for working on short notice and being such great sports. Subscribe to their channel here.

Putting $21.5 Million To Work for a More Creative World

chase jarvis early creative live days

BTS selfie at one of the first creativeLIVE workshops with Vincent Laforet

Wanted to take a break for a hot second this morning — away from studios and airplanes and shooting photos in far away places — to make a special announcement and say a huge, ginormous thank you.

If you’ve been a part of this community for some time, then you already know that a few years back, myself and my good pal Craig Swanson, scratched out some ideas on a whiteboard, rallied a bunch of friends, and kicked off a dream to unleash the creative potential of millions of people worldwide — the creative potential that we all have inside us– by delivering the world’s highest quality creative education to a global community for free. That project was called creativeLIVE.

Now more than 3 years into that journey…that scrappy little company born from a gritty warehouse in South Seattle and based on the fundamental principle that we should ALL have access to world-class creative education regardless of age, gender, socio-economic status or experience level — has hit a handful of super-exciting milestones. We have now delivered more than 1 BILLION minutes of free creative education to more that 2 MILLION people in 200 COUNTRIES worldwide. We have 85 employees, more than 500 online courses and are producing more live educational content than anyone in the world.

And let’s be clear – these milestones and others we will continue to share in the near future are based entirely on YOUR belief, YOUR support and the support of our entire amazing, collective community. THANK YOU. Seriously. Getting teary-eyed thinking of how much you have helped my wildest dreams come true. It’s because of you that Pulitzer Prize winners, New York Times Best Selling Authors, Emmy nominated directors, cutting edge artists and the world’s top entrepreneurs have decided to hang their hat on creativeLIVE’s platform to share their knowledge. They have discovered through YOUR participation in cL that this community more than any other in online education wants to learn and grow together, have meaningful on and offline relationships and work to transform passions, careers, and lives….to make knowledge accessible, to enable skill-based learning, and -dare I say it- help make big and small dreams alike come true.

It’s with all this in stride that I’m proud to share with you today that creativeLIVE have raised $21.5 million dollars in a new round of venture capital financing from The Social+Capital partnership + Greylock Partners. Whoa! Holy crap that is a lot of money. What does this mean? What will cL do with this money? Put simply, we raised this money to better serve you, our community, to help us reach a new set of goals, and to take this platform to an entirely new level.

More specifically…. We have listened to you and have heard that you want more access to top experts in creative fields beyond photography. As a result, we have over the past year expanded into video production, art & design, audio & music, and business / entrepreneurship to help you pursue the skills and passions that you want to learn. We will continue to deliver this – and grow it Among other things, this expansion requires capital — money to bring in more of the world’s best instructors in these channels, money for new studios, new infrastructure, new technology and salaries for a kickass staff who wants to change the world. We want to build a category defining, long-standing company that serves its community in a way that no other education company ever has or will.

Here is the announcement in TechCrunch, AllThingsD, GeekWire, etc

In the last 15 months we have opened up new studios in Seattle and San Francisco and have hired world class people like Mika Salmi, Brent Ayrey and Rick Silvestrini. Mika was the frickin President of Viacom where he ran all 35 TV channels there including MTV and Comedy Central and other division including Universal Pictures! Brent came from Netflix where he built from scratch their game-changing streaming service that today makes up 20% of all internet traffic on any given day. In turn, we landed Rick from YouTube where he ran the curation and business around the YT homepage – which is one of the hottest pages on the entire internet. These are people who have “made it” elsewhere in life and have now turned their lives and careers toward creativeLIVE to be a part of a movement focused on growing a community and a product that democratizes creative education. We know that creativity is the new literacy. These people and others like them are the kinds of people that are building this company WITH YOU and FOR YOU.

What does this mean for me personally? Not much is different – other than an even more intense desire to pursue creativity for myself and others, to deliver value to you, to push boundaries and challenge less effective “old” ways of thinking, doing, and making. I will continue shooting photos like mad, directing films & shows & commercials all over the damn place, shooting chasejarvisLIVE and sharing all that stuff here on my blog and within my social feeds and wherever else is I can find a way.

I will also be going deeper into creativeLIVE, looking for new ways to synergize my life as an artist with helping drive the kind of innovation that you want to see…ensuring cL is built by creatives for creatives. I feel like I’ve learned enough for 100 lifetimes throughout this process already — getting to find out what makes me tick as well as rubbing elbows with all kinds of characters, from dirtbags (like me) to brilliant bad-asses to legendary billionaires and everything in between. And I have this distinct feeling that it’s just getting rolling. As I continue to learn, and stumble and succeed and fail, I’ll continue to share.

If you have questions or comments – please do share them below. I’ll respond below or wherever possible.

Huge thank you for making all of this possible. For deeming that yours truly and/or the creativeLIVE movement are worthy of your support. #gratitude

Everyone is creative.

I Will Give You $50,000 + a VIP Trip to NYC + I’ll Be Your Mentor For Life

I’m not much known for just dipping my toe in the water. And this is no exception.

“It’s gotta be real money and real access” I said.
“How about $50,000 cash, plus a trip to NYC to receive your mentorship and spend some quality time with you.”
“Um. DEAL.”

An that’s how it went down on the phone with my friends at Shopify, the powerful e-commerce website solution that allows you to sell online by providing everything you need to create an online store. In short I will be giving one winner — one of YOU — a check for $50,000 and a promise to be a mentor for life if you start an online business using Shopify and earn more money than anyone else in the Art & Photography category. I’m not getting a cent from this. This is all about firing up our community of creatives and helping make shit happen. So join me by entering.

Even more news? Since this is a diverse readership, let’s say instead of Art & Photography you prefer Music, Electronics & Gadgets, Jewelry & Crafts, Health & Beauty, Food & Beverage, Fashion & Apparel, Sports & Recreation, or…hell…anything else! Then you’re in luck because the competition extends to you too. But if you win one of these other categories you will be assigned another mentor… How bout billionaire Mark Cuban? Or Tim Ferriss? It’s THAT good. In fact here’s the complete list of my peers with whom I’m working on this project for you to choose from:

_Lil Jon (hip hop legend)
_Tim Ferris (4 hour everything)
_Tina Eisenberg (aka swissmiss)
_Selita Ebanks (model & health star)
_Gary Vaynerchuk (wine & food guru)
_Damond John (founder of FUBU – star of shark tank)
_Mark Cuban (billionaire entrepreneur/owner of Dallas Mavericks
_Arianna Huffington (media maven)
_and yours truly

chase jarvis mentor build a business shopify

Never before in history have creativity & business come together in such an obvious, simple and radiant fashion. Like Gary V says in the above video, “This is the most practical time in the history of time to be an entrepreneur. If you even have 1% of a thought about doing it [starting a business], do it.”

YOU’RE SAYING RIGHT ABOUT NOW…

SO HOW DO I WIN? The short version is that you if you start a business with Shopify and have the most sales in your category over a particular window between NOW and MAY 2014, then you win. The longer, more detailed version of all that is here on the Shopfiy site. There is plenty of time to kick ass and sell your heart out, but the time to start is now.

AND WHAT DO I WIN AGAIN?

You win a check for $50,000 USD. Shopify will fly you to NYC to join me & the other mentors and winners (that’ll be a nice gathering), and then I will be your business mentor for life. (Or if you’re in another category, you’ll get mentorship from THAT categories mentor).

Boom.

Again, YOU have the tools and vision to win this sucker, it’s all about focusing on your passion, using your business skills, and making shit happen. I’m doing this purely out of love and a desire to see creative businesses thrive. I’d appreciate your helping me spread the word by linking, pointing, RT’ing FB’ing whatever you can to contribute to this cool contest. I’ll be doing lots of talking about this over the next several months, so get used to it. This might just be your big chance. All the details can be found here.

Dream Job — Color Cannons, Flying High & Turning Dreams Into Photographs for Samsung

A NO BRAINER.
When someone comes to you and asks you if you’d like to create a photograph of your most vivid dream on their dime — let’s be clear on this one — you say YES.

Such was the case with Samsung and their creative agency Possible several weeks back. I got one of “those cool phone calls” where all your hard work comes into focus just for a second. (Dialogue in my brain = Wait a minute. Any photograph I want? Of my dreams?! And you’ll be my benefactor to make this happen? Yes Chase, creative freedom. We want to enable your imagination. Are there any images you’ve been excited to try to create but haven’t had the means or the opportunity?) Um. Hell yes. They had approached me with a completely blank canvas. Their only requirement? That the image would be a colorful expression of a dream to prove out the color quality on the Samsung Premium Monitor Series 9 for professional photographers. My only requirement? That I could make a video of the process to show you how we pulled it off.

It was a deal.

THE CHALLENGE.
I immediately knew the image I’d make. I’ve had this reoccurring dream where I’m floating in a sea of insanely vividly colored clouds. You know those flying dreams… well, this is similar, except more floating than flying or falling. (there’s water below in my dream, but that’s of no consequence here…) In short order, I pitched them the idea, they loved it, said “yes”…and then I jumped in… only to realize a moment later that I had no idea how I’d possibly make this happen. How does one “make” clouds? How could I pull this off with in-camera capture? How could I accurately translate the stunning colors into real life? And how would I do this with just a couple weeks lead time? Gulp.

If you’re a photography buff or just plain curious, then read on to get details on the process, how we made the set + the “clouds”, the gear, the monitors, the final image, and all the good stuff that went in my mouth and up my nose.

ENTER–> THE PROCESS.
chase jarvis powder compSketch of the idea. My original sketch was so neanderthal in nature I can’t believe my team had any clue what we’d be up to. The first whiteboard scribble led to this superquick, subsequent mock-up, a speedy photoshop file using some of my other photos and some puffy clouds tweaked into rich colors. It was a hackjob at best, but it got us started down the path of what to do next. We had to find those clouds.

The colors from my dream. This was fun… I went into a paint store and, from memory, selected a handful of paint chips that matched the colors from my recurring dream. This was the basis of moving my dream into reality. The goal is that my wardrobe, the clouds, the environment and the final image would be a perfect match based on these paint chips.

Chase and Loren matching the Celebration Powder to the colors from Chase's dream.

Clouds. First we worked through 101 ways to make clouds, from A-Z, smoke machines to mist. And where we ended up — after a good bit of experimenting — was absolutely awesome. Know that stuff called “celebration powder“? If you happen to be tuned Hindu celebration of Holi in India then you know what I mean…it’s a big thing. It has also migrated its way into seemingly endless fun runs here in the USA. In short this powder is made 100% bio degradable and non toxic from cornstarch. You can eat it (and I ended up eating a LOT of it). This powder, we discovered, can be ordered from some select outfits online. We ordered about 40 pounds of this stuff… some pre-made, others made to match the paint chips (above) we sent the manufacturers. Huge thanks to the Art Department on this shoot –> Loren and Darcy made this shoot happen because of the ingenius way in which they sourced the powder and — even more importantly — devised the “air cannon” mechanisms through which to fire it up into the sky and make the perfect clouds. The air cannons are, like the video explains, simply a series of tanks of highly compressed air with quick valves that can be tripped remotely. Upon flipping the switch – BOOM – you’ve got canned air firing that powder into the sky.

chasejarvis_powder_bts_samsung

Hindus celebrated Holi and believe it is a time of enjoying spring’s abundant colors and saying farewell to winter.

chasejarvis_bts_testingpowedercannon_samsung

Testing the powder canons

chasejarvis_bts_samsung_testingpowdercannon

Boom!

chasejarvis_bts_smansung_powdershooters

Loren and crew setting up the powder canons

THE SET
The “cloud tent”. Now this stuff is messy. And when I say messy, I mean…like the messiest stuff you’ve ever dealt with. After myriad of outdoor tests we discovered, duh, that it gets EV-ER-Y-where. So we built the set to be a giant visqueen tent in very large sound stage to keep it all contained. Approx 30 feet x 30 feet x 20 feet high. Our own gigantor see-thru cube.

Flight. Anytime I get the chance, I’ll do my own stunts. Since we’d agreed in advance that – if this were my dream – I’d need to be the talent… So into character I went. In order to get the floating sensation, we decided after some practice, that a trampoline was the best way to create the look in the studio. With a couple of pulled neck muscles and some body position tweaking, it’s possible to get this floating / hovering look right at the apex of a big bounce on the trampoline. Took me a few hundred tries to be able to nail the effect on autopilot, but it indeed became automatic. Not gonna lie, it had been a few years since I’d jumped on a trampoline, but this was good fun… And, as I was to soon learn, it’s an entirely different thing to do it in practice vs. wearing the wardrobe, goggles and having canons fired at you… but more of that later.

chasejarvis_trampoline_bts_samsung

Moving the trampoline into position

THE GEAR
Stills. For the still portion of the shoot, we shot with the Nikon D4 tethered to our monitoring station, which consisted of three Samsung Series 9 monitors + Mac Pro.  As for glass, we used the Nikon 24-70mm zoom lens stopped down around f/11 for a nice deep depth of field. The Nikon D4 was secured to a light stand and raised to a hole cut into the visqueen at the height that I would be jumping to so we could get a clean shot without jeopardizing the electronics of the camera. And of course it was tethered to the computer so it could be fired remotely and – most importantly so that the images could be reviewed immediately on the Series 9 to check focus, color + file integrity.

Strobes. We used two Broncolor Scoro A4S Power Packs and four Broncolor Unilite 1600′s to give us the light we needed. And since the strobes were positioned outside the visqueen tent (for safety and cleanliness) – aka- the one huuuuggge softbox — the only modifiers we used were directional dishes soas to aim the light in the general direction of yours truly, the bouncing kook. We used PocketWizards to fire the Broncolors remotely off the camera.

Continuous light. Since we were also making the BTS video above, we knew we’d also need continuous lighting for the motion capture. As such we decided to go with two 9000 watt Maxi Brutes. The Maxi Brutes (9 x 1000 watt bulbs in a single unit) were phenomenal pumped out the continuous light needed for the high speed behind the scenes video cameras to get the exposures and frame rates that we wanted. This also allowed us to have to use less light in the strobes above, which kept the flash duration way quick. The Maxi Brutes are huge, look here:

Here’s a quick sketch of our lighting + setup diagram:

chasejarvis_samsung_diagram

Motion Capture Cameras. For the behind the scenes video capture, we thought it’d be fun to bring out the big guns…and the small guns too. We hired our pal DP extraordinaire Chris Bell to shoot with his fancy Arri Alexa [stay tuned for another video about that camera]. We also brought along a Sony FS700 to shoot high speed…480+ frames per second, a Canon 5D mkiii for quick on-the-fly shots, a Canon 7D for timelapses, and lastly, we grabbed every GoPro we had in our shop – I think it was 9 of ‘em.  These came in handy for rigging up shots that we didn’t want to stick our expensive high-end cameras in. We wrangled some Manfrotto pods + spreader dollies, plus a tasty Kessler crane to keep things moving. And you gotta know we made this sweet quick-and-dirty array for a Matrix-esque shot that you can see in the video if you watch it a couple times…:

chasejarvis_erikHecht2_samsung

Cinematographer Chris Bell with his beloved Arri Alexa

chasejarvis_erikhecht1_samsung

The Sony FS700 shooting into the tent.

chasejarvis_erikHecht2_samsung

chasejarvis_bts_samsung_monitors

Post capture - reviewing the work on Samsung Series 9 - happy with the results.

chasejarvis_bts_samsung_monitors

Image + color review

The Aftermath

HERE’S A FINAL CAMPAIGN IMAGE (keep eyes peeled in all markets).
ChaseJarvis_Samsung_Series9_1000px.jpg

If you made it this far and wanna see more stuff like this, here’s the coordinates to subscribe: facebook.com/chasejarvis, twitter.com/chasejarvis, G+, or my extra special email list.

IMPORTANT NOTEA ABOUT MUSIC!
Music is a huge part of the fun we have when making these BTS videos. As such, huge shout out to the legendary beat maker Big Chocolate, without whom this vid would not be possible. You can catch him at his fBook here, twitter, or pickup this very track and other radness here (please support him) on iTunes here. Alas, he will also be crushing it all summer long on the Vans Warped Tour too.

OTHER RELEVANT STUFF.
In addition to the final still image which you may see all over the globe, there is a web commercial produced some good friends of mine – that is pretty damn funny. Check it here.

Super duper big shoutout to crew who worked on this…obviously the art dept, production, and cinema crews got shoutout, but also to my stylist on this one Alvin Stillwell.

For monitor specs etc go here and for more Samsung vids here’s the Samsung YouTube channel.

For more badass work from Possible Worldwide, go here.

Thanks yo!

Do Less = Do More. The Art of Being Creative + Productive

I’m a huge fan of the concept of “strategic renewal.” Chasing shiny opportunities, working in a reactive state and dealing with each new email that pops up on your phone is not only exhausting – it’s a way to ensure you get nothing done – and it’s simply not sustainable. “Busy” isn’t success. It’s a lack of priority. I’ve been paying attention to those who have command of their time…systems that bring sanity and purpose to a hectic travel and work schedule. I fly about 150,000 miles a year, at minimum, so keeping myself healthy and productive in the midst of constant movement is essential to being an effective creator. For the first 25 years of my life I resisted “systems” and plans with every fiber in my body because I thought it meant the man was keeping me down. But now, FLEXIBLE routines for exercise, meditation, renewal, creative expression ARE key essential parts to my success. My writer friend Ben has been developing his own system of strategic renewal for years – which is very much in line with my own – and I asked him to share it for our benefit today. Take it away Ben. -Chase

Thanks Chase. I work from home like many of the creatives reading this piece, so right away, we’re in cahoots. While the home office / studio environment is filled with distractions — dirty dishes, laundry, an un-made bed, the un-vacuumed carpet and myriad other 10-minute chores that call out like a siren each and every minute of the telecommuter’s working day, I’d rather create a plan that kept me away from those pesky distractions than be trapped in a soul sucking job, under the soul-sucking glow of fluorescents, surrounded by employees who worked by an unwritten company rule that more is more. Arrive early, leave late. Rinse, wash, repeat. Scratch that. Despite being chained to a chair for 12 hours a day — our peers in those role are NOT more productive than we are. Here’s why.

Chase and I have both recently read an article by Tony Schwarz in the New York Times about a what researches are calling “strategic renewal” and its impact on productivity. According to Schwarz, strategic renewal is vital to staying productive. The concept includes activities like:

daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations…boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.

The theory boils down to the fact that we can’t increase the hours in the day, but we can increase the energy with which we make the most of those hours. Taking short, scheduled breaks throughout the day rejuvenates and restores us physically and mentally, helping us plow through those assignments and to-do lists in a third of the time.

The coolest take away from the article concerns what I now call “work blocks.” In short, after that 90 minutes of work, our bodies and minds need a break. But our 9-5 (or 7-7) work culture demands focus for much, much longer blocks of time, so many of us fight that urge to break by filling up the mug with more coffee, rubbing our eyes and refocusing on the screen.

No more.

Inspired by Schwarz and the studies he cited, I created a Daily Schedule that broke up my day into 90-minute Work Blocks, separated by 30 minute Breaks and, in the middle of my day, a 2-hour lunch. I know some of you just spit your coffee out. But you read that right. I take a 2 hour lunch to get a long run or workout in, eat and read from a book or write a few lines in my journal.

During the 30 minute breaks I read, clean, walk to the post office and complete those little, once distracting tasks that now actually kill two birds with one stone. Sometimes, if I didn’t get enough sleep the night before, I’ll even knock off for a cat nap.

Here’s a snapshot of my day, which I have printed out and laminated so I can use a dry-erase marker for daily tasks and to-dos:

[Download the Daily Schedule PDF.]

I schedule a total of four 90-minute work blocks in my day. Since implementing my Daily Schedule, I find that my productivity is nearly 4x what it was before, especially when I stay disciplined and, most importantly, when I get a full night’s sleep. [Which, for me, is at least 7 1/2 hours.] When you step back from it, I’m essentially “in the office” for 9 hours a day, from 7:30 – 4:30 (I’ll usually keep plugging until 5, out of respect), but by the time I punch out, I’m no wearier that I was when I punched in and I step away from my desk with a the clear conscience of one who has knocked out some serious work. Even better, I find myself going to bed at night genuinely looking forward to work the next day.

Sure, it’s no Timothy Ferriss 4-hour Workweek, but it’s working towards it. And it’s respecting my body’s physiological need for regular breaks, a full-night’s sleep and daily physical activity.

So that’s it in a nutshell. I’d write more, but the dryer buzzer just went off.

[I lied. A final word about the two hour lunch, because it sometimes does feel indulgent. As justification, I leave you with the daily schedule of one of America's most productive men, Benjamin Franklin:]

12 Tips for Entering the Commercial Photo & Film World [Hint: It's Not What You Think]

chasejarvis_12tipsforbreakingIntoCommercialPhotography
Hi folks, Megan here, long time staff Producer for Chase. We get a ton of email inquiries every day from guys and gals looking to “work their way into the industry” or utilize skills learned while at school. Most inquire about being a photo assistant. And while that’s certainly an option to learn a ton on-set, it’s not the only path you can take to get your feet wet in the business of commercial photography and film. It’s not often discussed, but as valuable as a good photo assistant is to a photographer, a good production assistant can be just as clutch. And it’s a way to ease in the biz without the same level of knowledge as the photo assistant gig, because a production assistant is even more about the hustle.

So I thought I’d have a little fun here and describe to you the Best Production Assistant in the World. This is all hypothetical, but if you think these are all qualities you possess, please, feel free to give your local photographer hero (or heck, even me) a call..

YOU:
…are the 1st person on set
One of my favorite sayings in photography + film industries: If you’re early to the set (or location), you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. And if you’re late, you’re fired. You should be standing around waiting, long before you’re supposed to arrive. You might not get fired the first time you’re not early, but the point is, don’t be late. Ever. Ever. Ever. Trust me, the producer doesn’t care if traffic was bad, or if your dog threw up. Be on time (= early).

…know when to be quiet
We champion the concept that a good idea can come from anywhere, but there’s a time and a place. The best PA knows when to chime in to their peers (almost NEVER directly to the photographer or director with a “creative idea” unless they ask but ALWAYS as a matter of safety – “hey that light is about to fall!”). So you’ve primarily got to know to stay quiet and observe. Getting caught chatting with the crew and making a bunch of noise is a quick way to not get hired again. Don’t be a know it all, but offer solutions to your peer group on set if you have a great idea. Generally speaking, keep your nose down and the work ethic up.

…have a car
And a decent driving record. A big part of being a PA is running errands, which is hard to do efficiently if you’re always waiting for the bus. Public transport is acceptable in NYC, Paris, London, etc, but usually frowned upon in non major-metro areas.

…are able to lift 50 lbs… easily.
There’s a lot of schlepping that goes on. You need to have some decent bicep strength and a healthy back. Be in shape, don’t be a slacker. If you’re not tired after a day of work, you either a) didn’t work hard enough or b) got lucky with a slack job. If b), don’t count on getting too many of those and don’t build your mentality of how in shape you should or shouldn’t be around the b) scenario. Be at least moderately physically fit – it will pay off.

…have no ego
Being a PA is not glamorous. At all. You’ll be asked to do things like take out the trash + clean up spills, all with a smile on your face. But doing so with pleasure and expediently is sure to get noticed and respected. Seriously. And in fact, I’ll add to this category… maybe even the most important thing… Have an amazing attitude. Nobody likes a whiner, a nay-sayer, a negative Nancy. Be a yes-boss, with a smile and some skills. Be positive. Oh, and be polite too. It’s amazing how far that goes.

…have a strong work ethic
You are working your tail off from the moment you walk on set, until you step out the door. The best PA is ready to work as hard and as long as it takes to get the job done. If any other PA or assistant is carrying stuff, cleaning, etc and you’re not, you’re not doing your job. Know when you need to steer clear of certain roles (Gaffer, Grip, etc) especially on union jobs – and know when to help. The more you’re around this stuff, the more you’ll understand the subtleties here.

…have a slight case of OCD
Attention to detail is the name of the game in production. The best PA is super organized and on top of his or her stuff. Always. If you’re a flake or even moderately poorly organized, this will show up quickly. Respect gets doled out if you can take on a project and complete it without being micro managed. On the contrary, no one wants to have to tell you the best way to “get coffee”. So you have to be able to figure it out. Efficiently and effectively.

…anticipate what needs to be done
See that the recycle bin is full? You empty it before being asked. The coffee pot is empty? You brew another pot before another crew member goes to refill his or her cup. Find yourself with nothing to do? Start making the rounds and ask if anyone needs a water. Anticipation shows that you understand what the heck is going on. Which, in turn, is the fastest way to get respect, a raise, a promotion.

…think on your feet
We’re always dealing with real-time problems on-set that need real-time solutions. The best PA is able to go with the flow and help resolve the issues at hand in a timely manner.

…remain calm under pressure
In the immortal words of Jimmy Dugan, “there’s no crying in baseball.” Or on photography sets. Be clear headed. Like Fonzi.

…value presentation
Sometimes there’s a designated Craft Services professional on set, and sometimes it falls on the PA to shop for and put out breakfast, lunch, snacks and bevies. The best PA has a keen eye for presentation, whether it’s food, a pile or cords, a stack of apple boxes, or whatever. Make stuff look nice. (You also hopefully have a sense of style, whether it’s food or design. Understand that setting down a can of Cheese Whiz and a pack of Saltines OR wearing your flip flops to a celebrity shoot is usually no bueno.)

…are resourceful
Perhaps the most useful and prized of all PA attributes, this one will help you out in any and/or all facets of the creative industry. You know who to call, where to go, how to make it happen, or you can figure it out without much oversight. Try to “know people” who can get shiz done – whether it’s a welder or a car wash, the owner of a photo store or the guy behind the rental counter. Make an effort to know people. And know how to do stuff. Lots of stuff. Sure you can make coffee, but can you properly coil cords and cables? Can you paint (as in walls)? Can you parallel park? Can you fix broken stuff? Can you MacGyver your a$$ off? The more stuff you know how to do, the better. BE RESOURCEFUL.

Of course having some experience is preferred in every line of work, but it’s not 100% required when starting out. There’s something to be said for possessing the innate ability to “figure it out.” If you’re eager to please and ready to work your booty off, starting as a PA might be a good entrée to the industry. You’ll certainly get to see the underbelly of the photography + film worlds, which is often a good thing if you’re wondering if this photography thing is a good line of work for you. Gotta see the sausage being made in the basement to know where all that industry flavor comes from…

Everybody’s gotta start somewhere.

Your New Hit List: 5 Things That Every Creative Person Should Get (and Give)

coffee smile chase jarvisGive. Whether to yourself or to a fellow artist in need. Every photographer, director, painter, writer, creative, entrepreneur, whatever mold into which you fit (or don’t) has basic needs. And thankfully, these needs are mostly free of charge. I’ve read 100 artist biographies, studied my own life and the creative LIVES of those around me and distilled some of the commonalities — and the outliers — for how and when, under what circumstance creatives kick ass. A pattern emerges. Therefore I suggest that you immediately (or ASAFP) give to yourself or to others….

1. Adventure + Experience. Whether in mind and spirit OR in actual physical practice, give yourself adventure and experience. Do stuff. Some stimulus, some INPUT is required as the raw building materials of a creative life. Profound is good, but unnecessary. What’s necessary are emotions, highs & lows, chinks in one’s armor, dents, road wear, and a range of experiences. What are yours? Some people go looking, others get hit but the truck, but in every case an experiential narrative is required for inspiration. So let me be blunt. Get off your ass. Given the chance to “go” or “stay”, you go. Whether you really go looking or metaphorically do, you won’t find “creativity”, you’ll find the stuff that creativity glues together. You’ve got to either cultivate, dig up, source, uncover or live these raw materials, these bricks, the sticks, and the meat to make something that only you can make. Live a life so that you can have a point of view.

2. Space. Creative synthesis doesn’t happen during your adventures, amidst the chaos and the noise. The mayhem and the delight of life gives you the ingredients, but synthesis only happens when you’re quiet, when you’ve got space, a moment to breathe. Sometimes it doesn’t require much space: a sleepless night, a shower, or an hour inside your head. Other times it requires more. But I guarantee it won’t be while you’re in the thick of it. Inspiration might rain down upon you, but building that inspiration into something meaningful takes more room than you’re giving yourself right now; it takes time (even a sliver), and it takes iteration. Rarely if ever will something come to you fully formed, despite all the fairy tales you’ve heard. Provide some respite, some space after inspiration, and harvest you will.

3. A Mirror. Give yourself a mirror. Not literally, but a figurative mirror to reflect on that voice inside your head, and capture that voice in an emotion. The raw materials of which I spoke above, are certainly out there in the world, but a quick reminder that you’ll not find any answers per se “out there”. All those answers – and I mean every one — are “in here”. In you. Things coming from you – from an only-you-could-have-made-this perspective is a requirement of outstanding art and creativity. Hence the mirror. No opportunity to reflect, no creative answers.

4. A Schedule To Make, Ship, or Do. Give yourself the schedule you hate – the one that says make it today, ship it, build it, do it. Chuck Close said (paraphrased) that… “If I sat around and only made art when I was ready, I wouldn’t have made much art.” It’s because Chuck knows that we excel at what we practice. And if we practice everyday – even in the absence of the raw materials, the mirror, the space, we’ll certainly be ready when all that shit lines up. Trust me on this one. And don’t try and say I’m contradicting myself, given the above points. You’ve got skills that need honing, even in the absence of the creative moon lining up with the creative Venus. Make things every day. Publish, launch, post, iterate, share. By God it’s the only way anything gets done.

5. A Break. Give yourself a damn break. You don’t have to be weird, unhappy, in ecstacy or pain to create great stuff. You have to be there. You have to be in the game, not on the sidelines. Adventuring and synthesizing, and reflecting and creating and shipping all take work; and that work won’t always be great. Don’t be a critic. The lives of critics are boring, ugly, short and full of yuck. Haven’t written a book? Don’t hate on one. Haven’t made a film? Be generous in your commentary. Don’t take, give. Give time, give gratitude, and by all means give yourself and others a break.

That’s it.

And don’t think you’ll get by with just one of the above. You’ve gotta wrangle all 5. Trust me on that.

joseph beuys_creativity capital

snapshot of Joseph Beuys "Creativity = Capital"

A “Top 10″ Life Moment: Video of Dolphin “Super-Pod” Stampede

I’ve been lucky enough to travel to a lot of far-flung places and I’ve seen my share of amazing things. But this hour-long event captured in the video above was one of the most beautiful, humbling and amazing things I have ever seen in my entire life. I was so dumb struck that I could hardly put the camera in front of my face to capture it…

Last month my crew and I were sailing with Mike Horn off the coast of South Africa. We are working in collaboration with a visionary company called Polyform who are helping Mike and I bring the beauty and wonder of our oceans to as many people as possible.

It was about an hour’s sail south of Capetown, cutting through the water on Mike’s 110-foot sailboat Pangaea, when “it” appeared. At first, on the horizon, we noticed what appeared to be a giant ball of bait fish. The water boiled for literally a mile in every direction…only as it approached at the speed of a swift wave did we see first a nose, then another, then a dorsal fin and then a thousand of them, then more. Only then did we realize we were experiencing the rare “superpod” of dolphins. Not dozens, not hundreds, but thousands of them — so thick you could have walked across their backs had they been game for it.

As they approached our boat and quickly surrounded us, our cameras were blazing…every camera, iPhone, point-and-shoot, DSLR, GoPros, every camera imaginable was firing off frames…until we realized that they were with us, and that the moment was actually too rare to shoot photos. After just a few minutes, we all put down our cameras, we stopped talking, and we simply took in the beauty with our eyes. In all of my days as a photographer, there have only been a handful where I’ve been witnessing / pariticpating in an event like this and simply stopped shooting to take it in. This was one of those moments.

In the few minutes we did shoot, we were able to get the footage to make this video above. And while it’s impossible to truly convey the magic of this experience – I hope these clips give you just a little sliver of what it’s like to encounter something so rare and stunning – especially when you least expect it. I think Mike does a good job of trying to communicate this with his little voiceover we cut into the video. Once you see something like this – you are truly marked for life.
_____________________

The next step. YOUR next step.
After the experience, we spoke with Doreen Gurrola, an instructor of marine sciences at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA, who told us these were “common dolphins” or Delphinus delphis. As my crew learned more from her about these dear creatures, my thoughts went…

// …to the mindblowing documentary film, The Cove (Oscar winner for Best Feature Documentary.) If you haven’t seen it, watch it. You’ll love me and hate me for the recommendation.

// …to my friends at 1% For the Planet where I’m an ambassador along with musician, Jack Johnson, and pro surfer, Dan Ross. Please give 1% For The Planet a donation. They are an amazing organization and can use your help. $1, $20, $100. Anything will help them. And then they connected me with…

// Leilani Munter, is also an ambassador for 1% for the Planet. She says, “I am using my voice and my race car to address environmental issues by trying to educate and engage 75 million race fans and hopefully inspire them to rethink their day-to-day habits. I am a big believer in not preaching to the choir.” Amen. Most recently, Leilani has teamed up with the Oceanic Preservation Society and Louie Psihoyos, the director of “The Cove”, on his new film called “The Heist” about species extinction. Bringing the message to the masses is their mission. Their kickstarter project is just thousands away from becoming a funded project. Let’s put them over the edge and give them money here. “We can’t say much about what we are doing, but it will be a big event, something people will definitely remember and will be equally as inspiring as the first film.”

// …which led me back to The Cove website where I found a wonderfully simple directive on what YOU can do take action to preserve, protect, and help these cool creatures and our planet:

5 Things You Can Do Now
1. Sign our petition to help save Japan’s dolphins
2. Help Save Japan Dolphins’ efforts on the front lines
3. Learn more about dolphins in captivity
4. Support the filmmakers with your donation
5. Learn more about what’s happening in Taiji
(Taiji is the location that The Cove uncovered as a slaughtering trap in Japan.)

Thank you for reading all of this. If you’ve been moved by this at all, if you’re not able to donate, then you can still help by sharing this post, this video with your friends. Also, huge thanks to Zoe Keating – check out the gorgeous music accompanying this video get it here on iTunes. Many thanks, much #respect.

chase jarvis dolphin superpod art 1

chase jarvis dolphin superpod 1

dolphin stampede chase jarvis

Writing Makes Photographers More Creative — 5 Easy Tips

051026_ChaseJarvis_einstein_writing_vlrgwidec

Getting personal and a little scientific here…

Once our basic three needs are met (and often even when they’re not), there exists within the human species a hard-wired desire to pursue happiness. For me, happiness has always been inextricably linked with creativity, the two enjoying a direct relationship. The happier I am, the more creative I am. Or more metaphysically speaking, the happier I am, the more open I am to inspiration and creativity. As if joy, laughter and contentedness can fine-tune the antennae that allow inspiration to be channeled from the Creative Source.

There are myriad studies and books that link journaling to happiness. Turns out journaling is a powerful tool that not only unsticks the blocked Creator but also increases happiness. Turns out it’s not just for junior high girls.

Like Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” which pours on and on about wonders of journaling, I make regular “artist’s dates” (read the book or infer as you will), and keep “morning pages,” where I write, first thing, every day. The practice, Cameron insists, is not just for the writer. Any “artist” — be you painter, screenwriter or photographer — will benefit from getting the “juices flowing.” I can attest to this. When I’m on it, I’m ON it creatively.

[aside, I use Evernote for my journaling - allows me to pull my journals up anywhere, computer, ipad, iphone...]

But the other benefit of regular journaling, it turns out, is an elevated mood. University of Hertfordshire psychology professor Richard Wiseman wrote the research-backed “59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot” which boils down peer-reviewed scientific studies on happiness into an entertaining, simple reduction. Ultimately, journaling distils into five main types, the conjunction of which can have a profound impact on one’s happiness:

1) Expressive Writing. Put your feelings down on paper and watch your self-esteem grow and your smile widen.

2) Gratitude Journaling. There’s been plenty of this bandied around the web recently, and for good reason. Spend 15 minutes listing that which you are grateful for.

3) Describe your Perfect Self. Recall a time in your life when everything just…clicked. That amazing experience. A high point in your happiness history.

4) Affectionate Writing. Now this one is win-win: Write to a person you love or care about and tell them how much they mean to you and why.

5) Progressive Review. Make a record of all that is going well in your life. Note the progress you’ve made towards goals you have set. Don’t dwell on the obstacles — focus on the breakthroughs.

Sure, it’s becoming a challenge to fit into each day all the stuff we should do. Between the daily exercise, yoga, meditation and to-do listing it’s hard enough to find time for the 9-5 stuff that MUST get done. But the rewards of happiness — as opposed to the age-old mentaility of the tortured, brooding artis — are too substantial — and immediate — to be ignored.

If only blogging counted…but it doesn’t…. Skip that b/s email to a buddy and write for 10 minutes everyday next week.

Traveling for Photo and Video Shoots — 12 Mission Critical Tips for Travel Packing

Pack it up!


So you’re going on the road to shoot photos/videos for fun or for a client? Kate here again, Executive Producer over here at Team Chase. This is part 3 of 4 on how to pack like a boss. Check out the last two posts in this series:

10 Mission Critical Tips for Booking Photo and Video Travel – getting there
12 Mission Critical Tips for Pre-Production – tips BEFORE traveling

Now it is time to hit the road… to bring or not to bring? That is the question. More is certainly not better, but you have to have everything you need… so where is the magic line?

12 Tips for Travel Packing

1. Make sure you have your ID and all necessary documents!

2.Pack early. This will give you time to think about what you may have forgotten and purchase anything needed. Keep a packing list by your stuff so you can keep adding to it and check off packed items.

3. Limit what you bring. Bring the essentials and backups of those essentials. Leave those fancy shoes and other not-so-useful stuff at home.

4. Carry on ALL mission critical items. No exceptions. When you pack a bag to check, pretend you may never see it again. You should have a working photography kit to get you through in a pinch as well as one spare outfit, your technology, any medications, extra pair of prescription glasses/contacts lenses and anything. Wear your heaviest pair of shoes while you travel… just make sure they are easy to remove for airport checkpoints.

5. Follow the rules when you are flying. Check with your airline and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines for packing your baggage. You don’t want to be stuck with extra charges or overweight bags. Carry-ons have lots of limitations including pocket knives and liquids (3-ounce bottles only in a quart size zip top bag).

6. Clothing essentials. Pack appropriately for the local weather and bring layers. Some essential items to consider are wrinkle-resistant, comfortable clothes, comfortable shoes, versatile pieces that can cover a range – totally caj~ to fancy, and a coat.

7. Your gear. Check out this video all about packing photography gear:

8. Carnet for your gear? If you are traveling internationally with lots of gear, you may need to go through an expeditor and get a carnet (passport for your gear – try www.atacarnet.com).

9. Bring backups for critical gear items. You may have to leave your underwear to bring an extra battery charger.

10. Charge everything before you leave. That means your computer, your phone, your camera batteries. Confirm you have all of your chargers and extra batteries for when you arrive.

11. Electrical. If you are traveling internationally, bring the correct power adapter. Each country has its own unique plug configuration, so be sure to read the label for a list of where the power adapter will work. Apple makes a World Traveler Adapter Kit for an Apple products, which is convenient. http://store.apple.com/us/product/MB974ZM/B/apple-world-travel-adapter-kit
Secret tip: we like to bring a power strip that we can plug into a transformer with the local plug so you can have many open outlets… this can save on space.
CAUTION: Be VERY careful about voltage so you don’t fry your gear or your self. Read the small print on power strips to make sure they can handle the voltage.

12. Take a production kit with you. There are some essentials that can be a pain to try to track down. Depending on where you go and what you are doing the kit varies, but here are some of my favorite go-to items:
_Mobile Wi-Fi. I fell in love on our latest trip to Cape Town! Up to 5 devices can remotely connect the internet?!?! Heaven: http://bit.ly/JZVID4
_a local phone + number
_cash… yes, people still use it. and it can often unlock doors or “make it rain” when in a pinch.
_a tiny printer + ink http://bit.ly/Ogv3Bj
_a tiny scanner http://bit.ly/LBkacJ
_hard copies of your lists, call sheets, paperwork, etc in a production notebook
_sharpies and pens
_sunscreen
_talent releases
_some way of organizing your receipts
_travel book/language guide
_power strip

I’d love to know what goes in your location production kit or in your bags! Leave your ideas below.

In the next post of this series, I’ll have some tips for your arrival. Stay tuned.
Best, Kate

Be Committed to Your Vision

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Mike Horn on the Pangaea at Sea, Strait of Taiwan

Commitment to your vision is important. Just ask my friend Mike Horn. I mentioned in my post yesterday (about imagination inspired by travel photos) that I was scurrying around getting ready for a trip with Mike. I’m running to the airport right now – and needless to say my imagination is also running with the thoughts of spending time with the greatest Explorer of our time on his aluminium hulled 110-foot 4×4 of the sea, the Pangaea. Click through the images above to see the results of my last trip with Mike in the South China Sea.

I settle on the thought of commitment when I think of Mike. Sure he’s passionate, inspired, strong (superhuman even), creative. But its’ Mike’s commitment to his vision that is truly unique. There’s no one else like him on the planet. He has done things in his life that no one else has ever accomplished — this is a man who swam the Amazon, circumnavigated the Artic Circle by human power solo, circumnavigated the Earth solo by human power. First he imagined these things (see yesterday’s post) and then committed 100% to accomplishing them – no matter what it cost in terms of time, money, and physical hardship. In this regard, Mike is truly in a class all his own.

Check out my talk with Mike on chasejarvisLIVE here. Whether your planning your next adventure or dedicating yourself more fully to your craft – we can all take Mike’s example and apply it to what we’re doing. Be committed.

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If you missed my stories about sailing with Mike Horn in the South China Sea in October of 2010 are Here and here.

10 Tips to Help Photographers & Creatives [that's YOU] with Contracts

ARGH...  Contracts!!!!

ARGH... Contracts!!!!

Are you a photographer, filmmaker or creative type and find yourself bogged down by contracts and legal documents? No where to turn? Do contracts make you want to scream? Well hello friends. It’s me Kate, Executive Producer over here at Chase Jarvis Inc. One of my roles as EP is to deal with all of the legal schmegal that comes through our shop and –while I have an excellent lawyer that I always consult– I feel your pain. Over the years I’ve learned a fair bit and now try to do as much of the legwork as I can reasonably do to keep legal costs as low as possible. You may want to consider this approach – it has saved us thousands of dollars.

I will start by stating very overtly that I am NOT a lawyer and can’t give you legal advice. This post is not said advice.  I do, however, think that–by example–it could be really helpful if I were to break down one common contract that photographers often get asked to sign before a project – the Non Disclosure Agreement (the “NDA”) AND THEN outline some generally helpful tips regarding contracts in general. This won’t give you all the details, but it will give you an important foundation, an approach, on which to build. That’s the point of this post – here goes:

Example:  The Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).

The NDA is a contract that is also commonly known as a confidentiality agreement or secrecy agreement.  It is a legal contract between at least two parties that protects the discloser (person sharing the info) and the confidential information when they share information with a recipient (person receiving the information) for a specific purpose.  You may be asked to sign one any time an individual or company feels that they are sharing confidential information with you.  This is certainly smart business practice for sharing sensitive information… IN FACT, you may even want to have your own NDA to protect your own confidential information if you’re in a positon to share such info with contractors, etc.

My Top 10 Checklist for NDAs
Below you will find ten things to consider as you review any NDA.  And again, you should definitely consult a lawyer, but this is a great starting point:

  1. Is there a “Purpose” or “Project” clearly defined?  This will limit your confidentiality requirements to the specific project on which you are working.
  2. Do the disclosure terms favor the party sharing the most information?  It is designed to protect the discloser.
  3. Does the agreement need to be mutual or not?   You might be sharing confidential information on the project too.  If you are, you may want to use an MNDA (Mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement).
  4. What is included in the definition of “Confidential Information?” Is this reasonable?
  5. Is there a “Feedback” clause?  This explains what rights the discloser will have to any of YOUR feedback.  For example, it may say that your suggestions or recommendations belong to the discloser.  You should decide if this is ok for you.
  6. Review the “Term” (period of time for the contract) and “Termination” (how the contract may be ended).  Both of these elements should be appropriate to the project.
  7. Is there a “Survival” clause?  This states that should you end the contract, certain parts of the contract may always be valid.  Know and understand what these elements are, so you are sure to be in compliance.
  8.  Read the “Boilerplate” (that means the standard sections) even though it may seem boring.
  9.  State of law.  If troubles develop down the line and legal action is required, where would the proceedings would take place.  You may not be able to change this one, but it is good to know.
  10. Look for the standard exceptions to confidentiality.  These favor YOU, the recipient, and state when and if information is NOT considered confidential or when it may be shared.  In NON-legal jargon, these are examples:
  1. You knew the information before it was disclosed to you AND YOU CAN PROVE/DOCUMENT IT.
  2. The information is or becomes publicly available (in a legal way and not through breach of any contract.)
  3. The information becomes LAWFULLY available from a third party (that means NOT through your company or the disclosing company).  And again, it must be legal, without any violation of confidentiality obligations.
  4. You independently develop what is protected by the confidentiality WITHOUT the use of the confidential information.  Be VERY careful with this one.
  5. You are legally required to disclose the information.  Just make sure you really are legally required to do so before you do.  Also, you would want to determine with your lawyer if you are required to or should notify the company.

Some companies have developed really excellent NDAs that are perfectly good to sign in their original state.  Others may just have a stock NDA that is quite broad and may even feel that it doesn’t make sense for your situation.  You are looking to make sure that whatever you sign works for your company and the purpose of your project.  I have the impression that many recipients believe that they MUST sign the NDA AS-IS in order to even be considered for the project.  While that MAY be the case, in my experience, I have found that companies have been very open to suggestions IF the following is true:

  • they are reasonable requests and
  • I make it easy for them.  They do NOT want more work, so I always send the client two things when I’m requesting changes:
  1. a “Red Line” version of their own NDA, which shows the changes I and/or my lawyer have made within the document, and
  2. a SIGNED, clean copy for them.  That way, if they agree to our changes, they already have what they need. (This is often a magical technique that demonstrates efficiency and understandingl

If the company is not open to making any changes, it’s up to you to decide with your lawyer if you are willing to sign the contract with a real understanding of what your risks are.

Finally, Some General Contract Thoughts.
In this post, we looked at one specific kind of contract, but there are so many more… JOY!   As you go forth, with your pen poised to sign away, stop first and consider the following before you sign anything [and did I mention that I am NOT a lawyer??  So, please take these thoughts with a grain of salt.  These are just my thoughts after working in this capacity with Chase for so many years.]

  1. ALWAYS read and understand what your are signing.
  2. Seek advice. I know that legal advice can be very expensive, but know that getting into a bad agreement can be far worse.  Sometimes it can be more economical to belong to professional organizations to get access to legal support, discounted legal advice or even documents.  Try ASMP.org for resources around legal documents.
  3. Stay positive in you negotiations around contracts.  It is GREAT NEWS that a client wants to work with you!! Contracts are just one of the steps to the end goal of a fantastic job.  You may not get everything that you ask for, but through the process you will understand what your are signing up for and make sure to avoid any ‘deal breakers.’
  4. Always keeps copies of the agreement that are signed by both parties.
  5. Note any requirements from the agreement you may have to follow through with later.

Best of luck to you in your legal endeavors!  Until next time, Kate

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