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things I’ve learned about filming

So, today was our second day of filming for WinkyFace. It was my turn in front of the camera, and yes, I was nervous. I thought I would be most nervous about the acting (and I was pretty nervous about that; I’m type-A and self-conscious to boot!).

But as the process continued, I realized that the part that freaked me out even more than being on camera was not having control over what was happening. I couldn’t see the shots through the camera view finder. I didn’t know if things were level, framed properly, conforming to “my vision.” (Yes, I know what you’re thinking. I am a control freak. Yes. Yes, I am.) It was hard to cede control of the situation to Laurie, Brig & Mac. But, I learned a couple of valuable lessons in the process.

1) I need to be learn to be more trusting of my partners. They can handle things.

2) It’s OK to be a little un-trusting, too. It means your head is in the game and that you’re thinking about all that’s happening around you in a critical way.

3) We all needed to be a little more prepared. Day 1 we were really on top of things. Day 2 got a little lax, it seemed. I didn’t have key props ready. There was a LOT happening in my small office space. And, there were too many distractions (people, phones, equipment, etc.)

I spent the last few nights looking back over the footage we’ve accumulated so far. We’ve done some really neat, creative things. But, it’s clear that we’re novices at this. That’s OK. This is a learning process, and I honestly can’t believe how much I’ve already learned in such a short time. There’s stuff we’ll need to re-do, re-think, re-imagine. But, that’s where the good #learningcurving happens. I’m excited about Day 3.

Until then, I’ll leave you with some of the outtakes of our first two days of filming. If nothing else, we had some fun.

And so … it begins!

We had our first official WinkyFace video shoot yesterday!

I’m not going to lie. I was nervous. The night beforehand, I had so much nervous energy. I didn’t know how far we’d get with filming, so I wanted to make sure I was ready just in case we got to any of my scenes. (The plan was to start with Laurie’s.) Laurie, who worked on finalizing the filming schedule, said I should plan two outfits. I packed six. I had equipment strewn all over my house, cords occupying every electrical outlet.

We met a couple of hours before our scheduled WF shoot to go over scripts and last minute stuff. We had some lunch to try to relax ourselves. Then, we met up with our new production assistants, Brigid and Mackenzie, at Laurie’s office. As soon as I saw them, I felt at ease!

We’re lucky to be working with such great students this semester. We’re lucky that, when we said, ‘Hey, do you wanna spend the semester helping with WinkyFace,” they said yes! As part of the deal, they’ll earn three credits via an independent study with me. And so, the four of us will learn together just what it takes to get a YouTube channel off the ground.

Before we wrapped today’s session, we did a quick shoot with Brig & Kenz so you could meet them! Check it out!

Blogging well takes work

So, as you may or may not have noticed, I’m late with my weekly blog post this week.

The short answer to explain this is that it was finals week. I was pulled in a number of directions with giving and grading final exams and wrapping up the semester with parties and whatnot. ‘Hard work,’ you’re thinking. I know. Excuses.

But, the more thoughtful answer is that blogging well takes work. The truth is, I knew that I needed to write a post for some time. And, I had all kinds of thoughts on what to write about. First, I thought about writing about hash tagging after I saw this video.

Laurie and I were talking about creating unique-to-us hash tags that we could use on our Twitter feed. I thought initially that this would be something neat to blog about, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t have anything really profound to write about it.

Then I saw this YouTube Rewind 2013 vid…

… and I got to thinking:

1) how cool it was to see some of our fav YouTubers (Jenna Marbles, Ryan Higa, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon) featured in the vid.

2) how cool it would be to someday see WinkyFace in a YouTube Rewind vid. I mean, come on. If the Prancersize lady can make the vid, surely Laurie and I can create something that will capture attention in the YouTube community.

But, neither of those initial thoughts were good enough to warrant a whole blog post.

In the past week, Laurie and I have been doing a lot of projecting and planning to make sure that as we move forward, we have a clear sense of direction and purpose for this work. We’ve been thinking about everything from a video production schedule to a scholarship schedule. We’ve been making plans for future production assistants, research assistants, and even possible conference and book proposals. All are longer-term goals. But, I guess we haven’t been doing a lot of thinking about the immediate, outside of worrying that our grading is completed on deadline and the Christmas presents are bought and wrapped before Dec. 25.

The pressure to produce a thoughtful blog post really made me realize that I need to do a bit more thinking and planning for the short term, especially for Margin Notes. Great blog posts don’t always just materialize. When they do, it’s completely awesome. But when they’d don’t, well, it’s rough.

So, note to self: Make a monthly blog plan. If the plans change and one of those amazing blog posts does materialize from an interesting conversation or happening, then so be it. But if not, then at least I’ll have something in place to prevent the panic. As a communication professional, I know that planning is good practice. I guess I need to practice what I preach! 😉

inspirations, pt 2.

Last spring, Laurie and I were sitting together at an Honor’s Program reception, and we got to talking with other faculty members about our research on Jenna Marbles, who is one of the most successful women on YouTube. Suddenly, Laurie turned to me with That Look in her eyes. Having worked with Laurie on projects now for the past three years, I knew That Look.

“I have a crazy idea.”

That’s what That Look said. What came out of her mouth was, “We should start our own YouTube channel!”

After thinking about it for a solid 10 seconds, I said, “OK.”

And so, WinkyFace was set in motion. We met several times over the summer to begin brainstorming what kind of channel we wanted to have, what kind of videos could we make, and whether pursuing this project was even a good idea.

After several cups of Zummo’s coffee on a not-too-warm early summer day, we had in front of us a list of video ideas and a timeline. Our channel would include vids that served as parodies on prof and college life, as well as parodies of interviews with literary characters. In both cases, we agreed that playing with stereotypes using parody and humor could be both fun and thought-provoking, even if goofy.

Our channel still didn’t have a name, so we went our separate ways with a singular task: brainstorm as many names as possible, share the ideas, and see if something stuck.

Nothing stuck.

Until Laurie suggested WinkyFace.

Rewind.  A few semesters earlier, I was telling Laurie a story about a conversation I had with students in my Communication Theory class. We were discussing Social Information Processing Theory–a theory that deals with the way people develop relationships both on and offline.The students and I got to talking, tangentially, about communicating via text messages. We were talking specifically about the use of emoticons. One of the students said, “Well, it’s never appropriate to use The WinkyFace. That’s way too suggestive.”

“Really??” I thought to myself? Standing there in front of the class, I started to sweat as I  almost immediately rethought every text message I’d ever sent, no doubt the 100s that included The Winky Face. Was it possible that people were mistaking my sarcastic or jokingly-intended Winky Faces for flirting? Could the students be right??

I did what any academic would do. I decided to research it.  I turned to one of the most trusted and credible sources on the Internets–The Urban Dictionary. Here’s just a sampling of the “definitions” I found there:

1. The secret code that means a girl wants your BLANK inside her, used mainly in text messages and Facebook chat.

2. Dirty dirty things.

3. Specific flirting mechanism never to be used by: family, old people, clergy members, uggos, etc. (Uggos?? I need a definition for my definition!)

Holy crap! Was this thing written by my students?

I needed a second, more credible source.


She agreed that when used in a rhetorical context, including texting, The Winky Face didn’t necessarily mean flirting, though it could.

That’s what I thought.


Clearly, The Winky Face is polysemic. But, the nature of this simple emoticon, the semi-colon + close parens, remained both intriguing and concerning.

Fast forward a couple of years, to our search for a YouTube channel name. What better way to sum up our goal–provoking thought about “professor life”  and popular literature using humor, sarcasm, and parody–than the very polysemic Winky Face. Like Monty Python’s “Nudge nudge, wink wink,” you know? We’re winking at you, the readers and viewers, giving you that elbow nudge and hoping that you’re in on the joke with us.

And, the name really sums us up as a duo. We’re doing this project to learn more about what it takes to launch a successful YouTube channel, but we intend to have a good time while doing it. So, The Winky Face is as much about our content as it is about us. The “X2” that we’ve added on our various addresses has made us distinct from other WinkyFace labels, and it reflects the collaboration that has been part of our project from the start.

Tell us what you think about The Winky Face in the comments below. How do you use it? Has it ever gotten you in trouble? Keep it clean, please!

Lindsey 😉

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