Happy New Year Delays!

20130108-100030.jpgChristmas lights here in Sendai.

Hello! And a Happy New Year,

The new term has started. All the students and teachers at Mukaiyama wish you a successful and productive new year!

I’m afraid that the winter vacation proved to be busier than I expected. So I wasn’t able to complete the book on time. As such, our new target for sending it to the publishers s the end of January. Please don’t be concerned. This doesn’t affect the quality of the book at all, we just want to make sure we finish a quality product.

It’s coming along nicely, though its important to me that we have a finished product before the end of the school year (March, here in Japan) as I fear some of the students will forget about this project!

That’s it for now. I’ll resume more regular updates as I get settled back into work!

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Last Chance

I’ve formatted half of the book now. The traditional section is actually very long. The movie section is quite short, Most movies are by the two animation greats of Japan. Do you know who they are? If you don’t you should definitely buy our book, and if you do, you should buy our book to check!

There’s only 3 days left on our Indiegogo campaign! We’ve raised less than a quarter of the meager target!

So I don’t know what else to say except PLEASE share this link like crazy: http://www.indiegogo.com/letspopculture

If not for me, who has, by the way, worked so hard for this project I might seriously have depression if it completely fails, then do it for the students who desperately need help but don’t even realise it, and all the disaster victims who need new homes.

Please! Just two seconds of your life can change so many others for the better.

20121129-102734.jpg if you don’t help, this cat will hate you forever, and probably die horribly cursing and screaming your name…

Have a nice day!

Spread the word

I’m not going to ask you to donate money. I’m going to ask you to donate 10 seconds of your time. I’m going to give you the link to our IndieGoGo fundraiser and I want you to share it somewhere: Facebook, twitter, mixi, tumblr, YouTube, … It doesn’t matter. Here it is:

http://www.indiegogo.com/letspopculture

We have until December 1st to raise $1,999 USD or I’ll collapse from stress, my teachers will go back to teaching soul sapping lessons, my students will lose hope in anything they do for school, English education in Japan will continue to fail and earthquake/tsunami victims will still struggle to rebuild their lives. So help, why don’t you?

It’s been one week, that’s 20 % of our time, and we’ve raised $305 USD so far. That’s only 15%, so we are a little behind schedule! That’s to be expected, as word has yet to be spread of our work. As more and more people share, donations will start to come more frequently.

Back at school, I have put up a quick poster to show students how well our fundraiser is doing. So don’t disappoint them, and don’t embarrass me! Share that link!

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I’ve also been bugging students to contribute more illustrations for the book. So far I have gotten a few doodles but I’m hoping I’ll have some more drawings worthy of being chapter headings and not just page decoration. Still, they are cute.

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That’s it for now. Keep following the Facebook page for more regular updates, and the Indiegogo page for more regular, detailed and fun updates. Videos coming soon!

Started!

It’s on!

The IndieGoGo page is here and it’s on. We are now accepting donations until 1st December.

So please get over there and do what you can. Donate if you have money, even a dollar could change lives, but if you can’t, then share, share and share again! This really means the world to me and it could really change lives, but only if lots of people know about it! So please, I will never ask for anything again! Unless, I get stabbed or something, then I may ask you to pull the knife out. Be realistic here,

As the fundraising continues, I will continue to blog here, giving updates of our progress and our efforts to advertise the project. I’ll also be posting interesting tidbits such as videos and photos directly on the IndieGogo page, so be sure to keep following that!

So there we go! After months of hard work, this is finally happening! Here’s to a big success!

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…!

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.

Multitasking

So here we are again. I’d love to update the blog more often but it takes a bit of time and I just keep getting busier. For quicker snippets of information keep an eye on our Facebook page and my twitter feed (below).

So, I had lessons with the second grade today, their first since they finished their writing for the project. So we’ve moved onto something else now, a discussion about environmental waste, but at the start of the lesson I made announcements about our final book cover image (see previous post) and the opening of our Indiegogo fund raising project. That’ll open on October 26th, so please join us and contribute, if you feel so willing.

I’m also putting together the reviews into one massive text file that will be our book.

However, mostly I am setting up the Indiegogo page for the project. As I reported last time, we opened a bank account to store the funding. However, before I can input that information into the web page I have to complete and post our introductory video. So I’ve moved that forward.

I’ve just finished the script. I’ve leaned towards the humorous, but it depends on if I can pull it off well enough to be charming to make people willing to hand over money. Hopefully, as long as they understand how passionate we all are about this – helping the students realize their potential, doing something creative, making changes to the English education system and helping victims of last year’s triple disaster – they will be convinced. Fingers crossed.

Now excuse me, I have to go speak to a man about arranging all the students in the hall to shout “Hello!” at my camera.

Scatter-gories

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Afternoon all,

Now that I have (nearly) all the reviews safe on my USB, and laptop, and the other teacher’s USB and laptop, I’ve started to think about putting them together into one file to make the book. It’s the dreaded formatting stage. It’s presented a number of quandaries.

For example, movies, music and the like can be easily grouped together. What of the traditional subjects like fireworks, kimono and mochi? Yes, I can put these all in a ‘traditional Japan’ section, but some may seem out of place.

Then there are the people. Should I have a separate section for people or should I put their articles next to the products they made, such as a director with his movies in the movie section?

It’ll keep me thinking and maybe I won’t have a solution until I finish the book completely. However, if anyone reading has a suggestion, please leave a comment.

See you again soon

Typing

Good evening,

It’s late evening as I write this. It’s also been a busy day, but the students are far into their final stage of the review book project.

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The weather was a tiny it cooler this morning so I decided to ride my bike all the way to work. It’s fun and good exercise, plus I get to enjoy the great views, but it often has me hot and tired by the time I get to the top of the mountain. I thought I would have time to recover, but I was wrong. As it turned out, I had three lessons in a row first thing with marking that needed to be done before those classes. This is the disadvantage of not knowing my schedule from day to day. So I taught the three lessons and then I still didn’t get much of a break after that!

But enough about me. You’re here to read about the project. I’m pleased to report that the students of 4 of the 5 classes had their final lesson today. They were in the computer room typing up their final draft of their reviews. Some of those students are quick! Then, some of them are really slow too. That’s ok. Nearly everyone finished.

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A few finished after school, but in the lessons there was a mad rush to save files as the bell chime creeped closer. We had a problem, because we had bought a few USB devices to save students data, but students were finishing too close together. So we ended up having the students save on their desktops. The problem with that was it was only temporary. If the students shut down the computers, then the file saved would disappear. We risked it anyway, and after the end of my three lesson run – while craving a cold drink and a comfy chair – I went from computer to computer with my USB drive saving each file in turn. I had to do this because the IT teacher wasn’t there today and only he knew how to access the network computer and save all the files together. So it was tedious, but the work got done.

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As it turned out there was only one student who ignored our numerous instructions to leave the computers on, and he did delete two other students work, but we fixed the problem later.

In general everybody has done really well, but there are just a handful who are still writing their first draft. It’s a shame, but normal at any school. Tomorrow I have one more lesson and then the students will be finished. Other than some promo material and the prizes for our Indiegogo fundraisers, their bit is done!

See you again soon

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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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