Ondi Timoner on Chief Executive Artist – The Bundle
Ondi Timoner (Dig!, We Live in Public) is devoted to disruption. Chief Executive Artist – The Bundle is a collection of three short documentaries following some of the world’s most innovative online mobilizers as they connect with their audiences via the power of the internet and social media. As we sit on the precipice of a new, open world brought on by the advent of the internet, these three artists are breaking all the rules and using technology in their own way to help cultivate their fan bases.
Russell Brands the Bird sees the British comedian and activist visit Twitter headquarters to speak to the staff that built the powerful platform that connects him to his fans. In Amanda F*cking Palmer on the Rocks, we see the punk activist and musician bond with her fans at intimate “ninja gigs” as well as take the stage at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater. Street art icon Shepard Fairey details how his brand and fan community have evolved over the years in Obey the Artist.
It’s all a part of a larger project Timoner’s been working on for some time now, called A Total Disruption, a platform for people to learn from forward-thinking entrepreneurs and artists how to harness the power of technology to help them make change and make their big ideas realities.
During a short phone interview, we chatted with Timoner about the impetus for the documentaries, ATD, her relationships with the three subjects, connecting with niche audiences, using technology to facilitate dreams, “do-shit-ism”, the similarities between artists and entrepreneurs, and more.
Chief Executive Artist – The Bundle is available for purchase now at www.ceabundle.com. $3 of every purchase will be donated to three charities chosen by the artists ($1 to each charity): HeadCount, The Teen Project’s Freehab, and Honor the Treaties.
Can you start by telling our readers about the bundle and what sparked the idea for it?
It’s called Chief Executive Artist – The Bundle because it’s really a part of an ongoing project that’s looking at the greatest tech revolution in the history of mankind, which we’re in the midst of right now. We’re trying to shine a light on people that are using this opportunity with the internet and technology to redefine the rules of engagement and redefine the way we make and share art. The larger project, A Total Disruption, is meant to be an ongoing resource and hub for people to become empowered to make their own vision real. I feel like these three artists that we focus on for this first series–Shepard Fairey, Amanda Palmer and Russell Brand–have all been able to mobilize massive fan bases in order to make an alternative living and make change in the world in a way they couldn’t do with a middleman. They turn their audiences into a community. I think it’s making the world a better place.
Shepard’s greatest line in his film, Obey the Artist, is when he says, “this work should mobilize people to get off of their computers and get out there, ironically.” In Amanda F*cking Palmer On the Rocks, she faces all sorts of trouble [due to] her honesty and authenticity and the way she expresses that directly. She feels so safe with her community of misfits, but at the same time, it’s public. Everything’s sort of out there [on the internet], and there isn’t that privacy. She’s been attacked for some of her views and for crowdsourcing some of her musicians. She loves disruption, and has been an ally to A Total Disruption for a long time.
Russell is hilarious. Him going to Twitter headquarters is a trip. The way he interviews them before going on stage is my favorite part. Twitter’s been such an instrumental tool to his revolution. I’m about to come out with a feature film about him, and it was just announced that it’s opening South by Southwest. It’s called Brand: A Second Coming. This short was something we did before we were officially making that film. These films are meant to be a peek into how to harness the power we have at our fingertips from a very character-driven, exciting perspective.
You’ve talked before about how powerful these computers we have in our pockets are and how people can either be slaves to technology, or use technology to help facilitate their dreams.
Yeah, you can go one way or the other with it. You can play that game of narcissism and entertain yourself with fun images all day and acquire as many ‘likes’ as possible. Or you can actually think about what it is you want to put out into the world, and you can use those same tools to make that happen. These three people have done that, and continue to make that happen. I hope people can watch these movies and be inspired.
These days, you can connect with niche audiences via the internet. You can test your ideas and iterate. We’re coming out with a course through ATD that all three of these guys are a part of, as well as the founders of 20 different companies. It’s the first-ever course for online content creators. It’s called Lean Content, which I co-host with Eric Ries. We meet with the founders of these disruptive crowdfunding and distribution platforms, and we have bits of Amanda and Russell and Moby. It’s a way of re-thinking creating as a community as opposed to sitting in a dark room, guessing what your audience is going to like. These days, you can share with them and it becomes a more interactive experience. I think all three of these artists in these films do this, and that’s why I call them Chief Executive Artists.
You also refer to these people as “impossible visionaries”. Are you seeking out new “impossible visionaries” to make documentaries about?
I almost can’t help it! They seek me out. Russell came to me two years ago about this movie, Shepard and I talked about the movie, and Amanda and I are always cooking up new things. I have more artists that I want to shine a light on as we continue with the series. I hope your readers will help me with that and tell me who they think is inspiring and which Chief Executive Artists I should be focusing on. I think artists and entrepreneurs are very similar. The best entrepreneurs are very creative people, and the best artist have to be entrepreneurial. Having the tenacity to take that first step and follow through when they see something in their mind’s eye that didn’t exist before–that’s what makes an impossible visionary.
Failure is a big part of being an artist. You have two good films and then one that people hate; you have to have the courage to know that the journey is worth it. At this point, when 40% of us are going to lose our jobs to technology, this is the time for you to go out there and try to do something. Amanda and I coined this term together: “do-shit-ism”. Just go do it! It’s scary, but it’s much more scary to think about it than to do it.
Part of the proceeds from the bundles will go to charity, correct?
Yes. Each of the three artists have causes that are important to them. We can tie our work into meaningful projects that are helping mankind, and this is something all three of these artists do really effectively. We thought it would be true to their spirit to make it so that $3 of every sale goes towards their charities. Hopefully we can raise a lot of money.
Part of our mission at A Total Disruption is to eventually make all of the work available to everybody, so all of the raw interviews from the artists and entrepreneurs I’ve documented over time will be accessible to people. That’s what we’re building now.