Professors Never Bow Out –– Only in New Directions

So here we are, folks –– my first Hat & Soul post of 2013!

This is also my first blog post as a former professor. Three weeks ago, I launched out into a brand new career with the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. Some of you may remember that back in 2010, I entered the world of online fundraising with a campaign for my short film Cerise. Since then, I’ve gone on to consult on various film, music, and book campaigns, free of charge, because I felt I had some insights to offer. Ultimately, I wrote a series of blog posts, which lead to my first book, Crowdfunding for Filmmakers, which will be published by Michael Wiese Productions this March.

“Go Fund Yourself” –– Most rock ‘n roll tagline ever!

It seems that my keen knowledge on the subject of crowdfunding, and what people have called my “intense generosity toward others” have paved my path to the Indiegogo offices in SoHo, NY, where I’m in charge of helping get film campaigns on the platform and get them funded, as described by my partner Brad Wyman, who produced a little film called Monster, which won Charlize Theron an Oscar back in 2003. And much the way it was a conversation on Twitter that partially lead me to pitch my book to @FocalPress and @MWPFilmBooks, it was #gogofilm that got me and @IndiegogoFilm talking about taking my skills to the next level.

Brad, as well as Indiegogo co-founders Slava Rubin and Danae Ringelmann, whom I’ve known since the days of my Cerise campaign, and Adam Chapnick, who I finally met at the company’s all hands conference in San Francisco last week, have shown me nothing but the utmost respect, even long before I became Indiegogo’s Vertical Manager for Film, Web & Video (“vertical” is just a fancy term for “category”). During my time as an adjunct professor (or what I called “freelance” because it sounded more dignified), however, there was seldom any respect shown.

PCAdjunct2In ten years of teaching in the higher education coliseum, I always got the thumbs down from my colleagues, all except a few select champions, who remain my heroes –– you they know who they are). I even spent a brief semester serving as secretary of the American Federation of Teachers local at my alma mater, and I saw the worst evils Hydden beneath these Dr. Jekyll’s unleashed before my eyes. And the confrontations always came down to a matter of degree: Unless you had a Ph.D., you were merely an instructor, and they hosed us down with reminders, sicked the dogs at us when we tried to speak up.

The only ones who give adjunct professors the respect they deserve are the students. They’re appreciative of all the knowledge we bestow on them. Many of them have never even heard the term “adjunct.” To them, a professor is a professor. Throughout the crowdfunding community, too, I’ve been given a great amount of respect from every friend, Twitter follower, and campaigner I’ve helped out along the bumpy road of crowdfunding by way of blogs, monthly guest posts at Daily Crowdsource, or my BBC spot in which I speak about crowdfunder etiquette.

And for that, I thank you all for helping steer me towards this bright new path where I can still be a professor.

A Tale of Two Professors
My Dad used to frequent the local Path Mark in Weehawken, NJ. Up and down the aisles he’d traverse, laying in his basket only items that were on sale, and all the while being cordial and talkative to everyone he’d meet in those aisles, even when he ultimately lost his voice to cancer. He always induced a smile from the cashiers and stock clerks, and they would open up to him about things that bothered them, both at work and at home. And my Dad, he’d listen. He’d give advice. And before long, he became known at that Path Mark as “The Professor.” No degree required, but a ton of respect.

Professors come full circle: Father and son, circa 1980(ish).
Professors come full circle: Father and son, circa 1980(ish).

5 thoughts on “Professors Never Bow Out –– Only in New Directions

  1. Congrats on all the success! My best to you in 2013 and beyond! =D

  2. Great to connect with you in the past few days. I look forward to following your progress.

    1. Same here, William! We’ll grab a cup of joe and chat in person real soon.

  3. I’m coming late to this blog post but man do I hear you about teaching and respect. I was a teaching assistant for several semesters while getting my MA, so that would be, what, the first rung of a rather daunting ladder. And I have no intention of getting a PhD, not when there are films to be made, and money to be raised to make those films! But the system is stacked against the adjunct and associate and assistant professors and all those other demarkations which merely mean: you are less than a full professor (and even then, you have to prime and fluff yourself for tenure and review). But teaching is honorable and it is an art and it is worthwhile pursuing: as I intend to do, vocationally, while still making films and writing. Since you wrote this post, of course, I’ve begun my Indiegogo campaign, you’ve advised me on it, we’ve corresponded about cats, yours and mine, and I’ve become a supporter of other campaigns on Indiegogo and Kickstarter,too. I think teaching and crowd-funding have one fundamental and very crucial similarity: its about building a community through trust and mutual respect.

    1. Thanks for giving my post a read, Michael! And wow, did you say it wonderfully: “it’s about building a community through trust and mutual respect.” Thank you for sharing that tidbit, my friend.

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