Digital Storytellers Meetup & Creative Bootcamp

Who: Ita Ema (View from Above Entertainment) is the mastermind facilitator for anyone interested in crafting their story—whether it is for a business website, blog, comedy gig, feature film or fantasy novel—you see there is no end to genre or medium; all are welcome.
What: The meetup is part instruction, part project-sharing, part accountability and support group for telling the story that entrepreneurs and creatives need and want to tell. The Creative Bootcamp is a 5-hour ‘Get it Done!’ workshop to follow through on creative story-telling projects.
Where: Gangplank, Chandler (usually the conference room)
When: Meetup is every other Monday at 6-8 p.m. Bootcamp is approximately once a month. Check the Gangplank Calendar and newsletter for upcoming schedule.
How much: This is social capital at its best! A valuable investment of time for PEOPLE to PARTICIPATE in LEARNING how to craft their story and DO their storytelling with BOLDNESS along with a COMMUNITY of creatives who COLLABORATE, and Oh! happen to build FRIENDSHIP in the process. (= no monetary fee)

Urbie's blank slates

Urbie’s blank slates

This meetup group brings together an eclectic bunch. We have our regulars, we have our once-in-awhilers, and we always have newbies. And that doesn’t mean they are new to story-telling necessarily, but in some cases new to the craft and this group. Beth, a voice coach, is working on a musical she wrote many years ago decided to pull it out of the attic storage box and re-write it digitally. Ariel who is a programmer, musician and former firefighter shuffles around her many projects including an epic fantasy novel. I cannot count all the comedy guys who bring in their projects, one of which is a story about the comedians themselves.

I bounce around to a different project every meetup, but my first “Get ‘r Done” project was a video I created for a non-profit’s AZ Gives campaign. I wanted to raise money for a “real restroom” at this non-profit’s recycling facility. I brought my ideas to the group one night about a year ago and we had fantastic fun brainstorming and flushing it out—no pun intended! I then narrowed the story down and created a script, did some on site shooting. I brought the footage in for our fearless leader, Ita, to help me with editing software in the Gangplank computer lab and I recorded the voice-over in Gangplank’s podcasting room. It’s not the project per se that sealed the deal for my commitment this storytelling group, it is the honest feedback and collaborative spirit of participation for my own projects, as well as for those of others’. When I see their stories come together and witness the progress they make, it’s a beautiful thing.
Learning the story arch and the beats for fun and fiction is in some sense a no-brainer, yet it is quite the ‘Ah-ha!’ moment when you see a story is crafted into a business plan. We have numerous entrepreneurs creating stories for video and audience-building on their websites and online marketing. April is a long-time Gangplanker and WordCamp 2013 Director plugged in her Powerhouse Posting Process online courses through Made Better Studio.
Self-assigned homework spurs participants onward between meetups and that has organically grown into the ‘part support group’ aspect. Marissa pounded out the story arch for her online tutorials for home-schooling parents and shot the video after one visit to the meetup. BOOM!

During Bootcamp it's 4 X 45 minute blocks of nose to grindstone

During Bootcamp it’s 4 X 45 minute blocks of nose to grindstone

Others of us struggle to fit creative time and energy into our daily or weekly schedules and we’ve found ways to hold each other accountable along with sharing tips and tricks—everything from apps to track and time productivity, to inspirational videos, to online script writing and animation tools. Ariel attributes her writing 15,000+ words in the last few weeks to the learning, camaraderie, and support to Digital Storytellers. Rob, eventually hammered out his Bottom Five Comedy material between meetups and says, “The Digital Storytellers group helped me narrow my focus so that I could complete my first short film script, get my website up and running, and begin a feature. Without Ita and the group, I’d still be stuck with a million random story fragments.”
Even our fearless leader finds himself progressing on otherwise top candidates for procrastination projects such as a feature-length script, Full Field the Basics video series and now a crowdfunding campaign story. Ita says, “Sometimes you don’t know where to start, but it you can just take the first step that’s enough to get the ball rolling.” And he certainly has helped us do just that and more!

Urbie meets success: a finished product in a new medium

Urbie meets success: a finished product in a new medium

The fourth Digital Storytellers Creative Bootcamp was On Sunday, March 15. While all participants experienced successful outcomes, newcomer Urbie ( @urbie ) found out he could be a pirate at Gangplank via #tlap (Teach Like a Pirate Twitter chat), so long story, short teaching pirates connected to Gangplank pirates on the app. Urbie came into the bootcamp with a laptop, a phone and a tablet along with a rainbow of sticky notes and pens. But more importantly he came in with true ‘Arrrrrrrr’ spirit! He had never tried comic strips before, but wanted to #BeDangerous and give it a try. He started from zero, added an idea and ended up meeting his goal of a publish-ready strip. I’m inspired!

Gangplank Chandler Announces Free Learn to Draw Series

Gangplank Chandler Announces Free Learn to Draw Series
Find your creativity on Monday nights by learning to draw.

CHANDLER, September 12, 2013

You were born creative. You have the capability to write, sing, draw and so much more. You have just learned to supress it. This four week series will help you re-discover the creator inside you have disconnected with. Pick up a pencil and start sketching. These weekly classes with professional artists will get you out of your comfort zone and start drawing. You will be amazed at what you are capable of creating.

Monday nights October 7th through October 28th at Gangplank Chandler from 7:00pm to 8:00pm will be the free Learn to Draw series. The first two sessions will be on using Perspective with local artist Christy Mackellar and will guide the beginner through a basic understanding of perspective to make sketches look more realistic. The second two sessions will be Drawing from Life with local artist Gilead and will feature a live model and a tutored opportunity to learn to draw from life.

These four classes are designed for beginners looking to get started. They will be kicking off a regular Monday program at Gangplank that encourages artists to practice their crafts and help each other improve. There is no cost to attend the classes but you will need to bring your own supplies (pencil and paper).

About Gangplank
Gangplank is a group of connected individuals and small businesses creating an economy of innovation and creativity. We envision a new economic engine comprised of collaboration and community, where industries come together to transform our culture. Gangplank was founded in 2008 in Chandler by Derek Neighbors and Jade Meskill. Since then, the Gangplank network has expanded to Tucson, Arizona, Avondale, Arizona, Sault St. Marie, Canada, and Richmond, Virginia.

Derek Neighbors, Catalyst
Phone: 480-539-6800

How Do You Picture Your Summer?

Become a better photographer over the summer at Gangplank Chandler!

We all know you’ll be Instagramming your day at the beach or grilling out, so why not take your skills up a notch?

Gangplank Studios is offering a workshop for all skill levels. From intro lessons for aspiring photographers, to master tips for seasoned professionals.

How Do You Picture Your Summer runs May 29 – September 25. Students will meet Wednesdays from 6:30 – 8 p.m. at Gangplank.

2 picture your summer flyer small

Instructors Kameron Williams and Andrew Ruiz are sharing their skills as part of Gangplank’s Studios Initiative.

“I’ve learned so much at Gangplank, this is my way of paying it forward,” says Williams.

As Creative Director of Lillimedia, Williams knows the importance of visuals in today’s marketplace. He also understands the hurdles.

“Photography is expensive enough, spend it where it counts, on gear. Learn for free.”

When asked about helping competitors in his field, Williams says teaching helps him grow artistically, and believes in Gangplank’s mission of collaboration over competition.

In fact, the course is designed with collaboration in mind. Each class begins with students sharing and critiquing each other’s photos. By working together, whichever skill set you’re starting from, your photography is guaranteed to jump to the next level.

The course is divided into three 6-week sections.
Section 1: How To Take a Good Photo
Section 2: Ambient vs. Studio
Section 3: Break-Away and Shoot

Students will need to use their own gear; including but not limited to a DSLR Camera, SD Card, and USB thumb drive.

Sign up here, and good summer shooting!

For more information, contact Williams at

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