Alexis Turns 30 — A Social Experience

The table was set. The N’Harmonics knew their cue. They would all be dispersed around the entrance to the bar and when I went up to Alexis and wondered aloud if anyone would be willing to help me sing “Happy Birthday” to her, they would… well, just watch and I think you’ll understand.

Leading up to Alexis’ 30th birthday I was very perplexed about what to get her. Gradually a plan began to evolve in my head. I wanted to take her to the Book of Mormon, but once I looked at ticket prices, I knew that was out of my range. Or was it?

Since I was successful using a Fundrazr campaign to solicit gifts — funds to help me get to my friend’s wedding in Wyoming — for my birthday earlier in the year, I thought the same formula could be used again. It had a somewhat oblique application to mine, but I thought it would still be respected. I would ask Alexis’ friends from near and far to donate to her birthday to help buy her ticket to the show and I would pay for my own.

In order to do this, I would need to take over her Facebook page so that I could appeal directly to her friendship network. After consulting with the tech support folks at Fundrazr and really delving into Facebook’s privacy settings, I knew that was my only option. Fortunately she relented pretty easily. Once the page was active, donations began to steadily stream in. I know Alexis has a lot of really good friends, many of whom I count among my own friends, but it was impressive to see the generosity up close and personal.

Now that the tickets were in the works, I started to think about how to say thanks to the people that helped to fund the birthday present and also how to deliver the tickets to her. I knew that she really like a cappella singing and that’s when the idea popped into my mind to try and find a singing group to serenade her using a flashmob style. Then I would present the tickets. And finally, to close the loop, I would film the whole thing and personalize the piece by adding a note of thanks from the both of us at the beginning of each video.

I took to searching the internet for a local a cappella group and came upon a group of singers from NYU called N’Harmonics. I reached out to them and was happy to hear back from Francesca. She helped me coordinate the effort, culminating in a meet up around the corner from the Swift Hibernian Lounge where I had stationed Alexis with a good friend and co-conspirator, Danielle.

I have to say thanks and give props to charity: water and Mo Scarpelli for the idea. If I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work on the charity: water thanks videos at the beginning of my internship, I don’t know if it would have occurred to me.

To watch us thank our friends, click here>

Speak Easy Series Collaboration

Sean Dimin of Sea To Table and Christopher Nicolson of Iliamna Fish Co. with Cara Cannella from Speak Easy Series on Vimeo.

Speak Easy Series is a live series that intimately connects bold artists and entrepreneurs with local audiences. Curated by Brooklyn-based journalist Cara Cannella, Speak Easy seeks to inspire curiosity and explore creativity through provocative conversation.

I was excited to work with Cara to bring her conversations to life in a visually compelling way. Live conversations can quickly lose their luster when transferred to video on the web so I sought to avoid that unnecessary hang-up.

I lit the venue in a way that re-produces the intimate appeal of Veronica People’s Club, a great coffee shop/bar in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The audio was tricky. Since there was no PA at VPC, I had to make sure a system was in place that would work well for both the live audience and the web-viewing audience. The camera work was really the last piece of the puzzle. Working with my longtime friend and production partner, Anders Birch, I was able to incorporate some nice cutaways that added just the right amount of spice to make it a compelling watch on the web as well.

Cara and I collaborated on three separate events in the series. You can check out Speak Easy’s Vimeo Page to see the highlights.