Premiere

Hey there, normal people. I’m a movie star now. Haven’t you heard? We made this great film telling people all about our project and its just so fantastic that people have propelled its stars into outer space. Literally. They strapped us to a rocket and now as we float through space our heads are popping…

But enough of the bizarre imagery. There is some truth there, and that is that we have made a video. It even tells people about the project, but I doubt it will propel anyone to fame. It’s online, on YouTube, you may even be able to find it, but I’m not advertising it yet because I want my select audience of beta testers to have their premiere so they can inform me if there is any problem first.

I don’t think there are any major problems. In fact, I think it turned out really well. Some parts surprised even me. However, it was a little rushed as I only had just over a week to film and edit it, ready for the Indiegogo project page’s launch on Friday. So it is a little rough, but I really tried hard to make it much better quality than my usual YouTube efforts and the students put in a great performance too, after a little persuasion.

So this is it! We are only 3 days away from starting the funding drive! Now is the time to start telling people about our project and the all important soon to be open page at www.indiegogo.com/letspopculture.

So what are you waiting for? Go! Tweet! Facebook! Tumbley tumblr…!

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The making of the introduction video

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Hey viewers and welcome to another exciting edition of “It’ll Be Alright On The Night”. I’m your host, Matthew Rowe, and… I guess I got carried away with the whole video making thing.

I’ve been filming clips for the Indiegogo project introduction video. It’s been fun but harder work than I imagined. Now, I try to make a short video on YouTube about my daily life every day, well, five times a week, but I don’t spare much time for production because I don’t have that much time every day. However, for this video I want it to look good so I’ve been practicing lines, setting up shots, dressing the set and patrolling security too.

The results are quite good, I can’t really tell until I edit later, but there have been a lot of bloopers. I never realized how hard it is to remember and deliver lines correctly, and then it’s even hard to remember what you are supposed to say after a difficult bit. So, if there is enough room on my iPhone and iPad to save the clips, I might make a bloopers video as a bonus later. It’ll be nice to post on Indiegogo.

Slowly, I’m getting there. The wrapped footage – ooh, look at me, I used a proper filming term – is piling up. I just have to work out a few location problems. Basically, I want to do a walk down the corridor as I talk through a few points, but they keep having lessons in the extra lecture rooms so I can’t disturb them. Hopefully, in today’s last period I will have the space I need.

Very soon, I’m going to visit the classes to instruct the students who want to appear in the video. Due to permission problems and personal safety, students will be appearing wearing masks, but still I have only had a handful of volunteers, and all boys! I want to get some girls interested for the sake of balance! So I’m also thinking of how best to use students in masks. I might get them to do something else funny. We’ll see what happens.

And that’s it, production continues.

The Cat Is Out Of The Bag

How are you doing? Is summer nice where you are or too hot?

I’m back a bit earlier than I said before. That’s because the English teachers had some further discussions. We decided that the summer vacation would be a great time to have the students work on the first draft of their review. Not only does this mean we can start earlier and give the students more time for writing, but it’s a longer period in which the project is active and I can provide information to potential backers when we start our Indie-gogo funding.

So, last Thursday and Friday I had lessons with Mukaiyama’s second grade classes. It was the end of a very hard week for me and I had full days of classes (since I was filming the 1st grade skit project as well for the school DVD) as well as interview tests to do after classes. Plus, the summer weather was particularly hot and humid that week. That should help explain why I look so tired and sweaty in the video below. Sorry about that. But yes, one of the other teachers filmed me introducing the project to one of the last classes. There is little reaction from students during the video, because they missed the finer details. However, I can assure you that when we handed out the newsletter after the recording stopped, and they read the Japanese explanation, there were plenty cries of ‘マジで?’ (seriously?).

I won’t comment further so as to keep this post reasonably short, but please take a look if just to laugh at how stupid I look.

This is it then, the project is under way! Please stick around and support us, because this is a brave venture for the school and the students are very excited now. Don’t let them work hard for nothing!

Konnichi wa! Welcome to Our Project

Hello, こんにちは,

Welcome to the blog!

My name is Matthew Rowe. I am the ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) or Native English teacher at Mukaiyama High school in Sendai, Miyagi, Japan.

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That’s me trying to look Japanese, but don’t let it put you off. I’m generally a decent guy.

This blog will record the progress me and my students make in finishing our book project.


What is the project?

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My 2nd grade students are going to write articles on parts of modern Japanese pop culture. They will write reviews of everything from movies to video games, comic books to music and illustrate the book too – because many of them are excellent artists! With their command of English they will express opinions and facts about some of Japan’s most famous characters and celebrities. There will be some you know and many you do not. So here is your chance to learn direct from the Japanese consumers they were designed for.

Why am I doing this?

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My 2nd grade students have been learning to express opinions with reasons in English class. So, I wanted to have them write reviews in their first project of the school year (Japanese school year starts in April) as the next step up in their education.

I know there are many people around the world who are interested in Japan and Japanese culture. However, in English, they often have to rely on advice and information from travelers or ex-pats. The problem with this is that it is always an outsider’s perspective. I’m sure fans of Japanese culture and those who are just curious would also benefit from insider information of Japanese people, but they can’t speak English well, right? Wrong!

The Japanese are much more capable than they think. They just need to take the opportunity. Yes, they are often shy and so don’t take those chances, but it’s my job to give them opportunities and they can’t escape my class! Mwuahahahaha!

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Can you imagine how good it would feel to know you could contribute to and publish a book in a foreign language? It would be amazing, I’d imagine, because I’ve published some books in English and that felt pretty darn good. It would be an incredible boost to their confidence in their English ability and in general.

Why are we doing this?

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As I am sure you are aware, last year, on March 11th, East Japan was hit by a massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. Our city of Sendai was one of the closest to the epicenter and suffered great damage. The school itself only had a few broken windows and the library started to fall down, and all the students and teachers were fine. However, everybody knows someone who lost their home, their family, friends or everything. Only 3 kilometers away entire neighborhoods were swept away, leaving only rubble behind.

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Over a year later, many people are still living in temporary housing, schools are damaged and without resources, businesses are failing and spirits are shaken. The disaster disappeared from the news after a few days, but the effects of it are still deeply felt across much of the country.

By publishing this book and making it available for purchase around the world, we hope to raise awareness of the continued struggles here and to donate any profits directly to those people affected by the disaster, those who need it the most. Many charities collect donations and the majority of the money is lost in red tape procedures. However, thanks to connections in the local cable TV studio, I am able to bypass this step and give the money directly to the people.

What can you do?

On this blog, and the soon to open Kickstarter page, you can follow the progress of the project from its inception to the day of release and beyond!

Most importantly though, this project will be funded by Kickstarter. In order for this project to work, we need more money. We hope to get enough backers to enable this idea to reach its full potential. The money will help to pay for:

    – Global distribution
    – Advertising
    – Professional illustrator
    – International shipping of the final product
    – A present and slap up meal for my girlfriend who will be much neglected during the period of this project’s execution

So, if you are inclined, you could:

    – tell people about the project
    – pledge money to the kickstarter page
    – buy the book


and most importantly,

    – help out the people of Tohoku, Japan.
  • Thank you for reading. I hope you will come back again and support us!

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Fundraising ends!

The EndDecember 1st, 2012
Our big fund raiser is coming to an end... Here's when. Thank you for all the support! We all really appreciate it.

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