This Web Series Aims to Feed the Innovator in Everyone
My love affair with tech began in 1999 when I received a call from Josh Harris, pioneer dot com millionaire and founder of first internet streaming TV network, Psuedo.com. He asked me if I wanted to “document cultural history”, because at the time he had set up cameras throughout his house, streaming his life with his girlfriend online. It was over this period of time that he lost millions over night. The resulting film, We Live in Public, took ten years to make and was culled from 5,000 hours of footage. It premiered at Sundance in 2009, where it won the Grand Jury Prize, and so began its journey around the world and over the Internet, without which it—ironically—never would have reached its audience.
We Live in Public really fired the warning shot of what was to come, which was millions of people willing to trade their privacy and freedom for online recognition. While we were forced to distribute the film independently in the wake of the stock market crash of 2008, we witnessed the massive impact that online platforms like Twitter had on getting our film out to a wider audience. I began to realize that the greatest tech-tonic shift in our history was upon us—and that nothing, from love to education, or politics to employment—was ever going to be the same again. The way we communicate, the way we learn, the way we do business—everything was being disrupted.
I felt compelled to document it, and to share the visions of the invisible superheroes—the entrepreneurs and innovators designing the online world we live in so that anyone, anywhere can fulfill their vision and do whatever they love to do faster, better, and more efficiently. So I turned my lens on this oft-intimidating industry, and for two years, I have documented its most compelling figures. With each interview, I was inspired more and more to keep going. I soon realized I was getting my MBA from behind the camera—and I knew that by sharing these stories with the world as I was collecting them, we could all learn the best practices for turning our own ideas into reality (as opposed to waiting ten years to release the revelations, as I had been previously privy to). This is the idea behind my new documentary web series, A Total Disruption.
In many ways, A Total Disruption is the flip side of We Live in Public, in that it explores all the positive and expansive opportunities provided by the tech wizards determined to take the necessary risks to disrupt some element of the old industries and practices. My mission with ATD is to feed the innovator in everyone by applying emotional and high-level storytelling to the oft-intimidating tech world, and to create the greatest, ever-evolving archive of the modern-day architects of our world, as we experience a major tech shift.
We currently offer six unique web series, running the gamut from aspirational to triumphant to prescient. “The Startup Life” covers brand new companies that are living on the edge, doing everything they can to make their idea a reality. “Wizard” follows tech giants whose bright ideas brought them from small beginnings to massive success. “The Future is Now” is about the mind-blowing inventions turning science fiction tech concepts and aesthetics into fact. We’ve collected insights from Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman of Reddit, Kevin Systrom of Instagram, Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Bram Cohen of BitTorrent, and Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn. To date, we have 50 episodes online. However, we have literally hundreds of hours of amazing interviews on top of that 50 that we need financing for in order to bring them to the public.
That’s why we are launching a Kickstarter campaign. With the funds we raise, we will not only continue to create these inspiring episodes, we will also take those hundreds of hours of interviews we've shot over the past year and a half and put them up online as a searchable archive database that can be a resource for the many entrepreneurs and innovators to come. We will also be launching several new series, beginning with an episode following musician Amanda Palmer as she leverages technology to directly connect with her fans, blazing a trail of disruption around the world in the wake of her groundbreaking Kickstarter campaign.
Many top entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and innovators will be offering their time to talk with contributors via Skype or phone as rewards. Other rewards include exclusive ATD artwork from Shepard Fairey and the chance to join our film crew as we shoot Amanda Palmer on tour, including having dinner with her and the crew. Most importantly, you’ll be helping to bring the unique stories and perspectives of these agents of vital technological change to anyone who wants to follow in their footsteps.
This project will be featured in GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.