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Spotlight: Writer & Producer Daniela Capistrano - The LAMP

Spotlight: Writer & Producer Daniela Capistrano

By September 8, 2009 News One Comment
Daniela Capistrano

Daniela Capistrano

Occupation: Freelance Multiplatform Producer/Writer (and new guest blogger for The LAMPpost!)

 Favorite Blogs: Uncensored Interview (music & pop culture),  Mexico Reporter (culture, travel and society in Mexico, using multi-media), (reviews, tips, and technology insights on the best gadgets, services, and mobile applications), Ypulse (Youth marketing to teens, tweens & Generation Y/Gen Y), CinemaTech (focuses on how new technologies are changing cinema), The Kaos Blac Blog (tastemaker), BushwickBK (hyperlocal news site for Brooklyn neighborhood)

Favorite websites:  In order for me to visit a website, it needs to offer amazing features that don’t translate on a mobile phone and that I prefer to use on a desktop or laptop. When I visit these sites, I spend a significant amount of time focusing on their content and exploring different sections. Here are some examples:

NEWS: I love the “Living-With-Less” hub. It aggregates all of their related news stories, videos, reader contributions and tweets. It also has cool multimedia features.

FILM: indieWIRE is a great site to find out about independent films, festivals and opportunities for filmmakers. IFP’s member site acts as a hub of info where you can find out about film events in your area, their conference and industry news. I am also currently exploring Massify, which markets itself as a a production network for people who make film possible.

YOUTH CULTURE/TRENDS: EPIC FU is a weekly show, guide to the web, tastemaker and community site. I love to explore their archives. They are currently working on a massive redesign.

PBS’ “Digital Nation” is a new, open source PBS project that explores what it means to be human in an entirely new world — a digital world. The site documents the evolution of this multiplatform project that will manifest next year as an aired documentary, but also lives as an interactive, collaborative component online. Viewers are encouraged to contribute their stories.

We talk to a lot of people who are overwhelmed by all the content on the Internet, and don’t know where to start. How do you find and manage all of your online resources? I have accumulated over 300 feeds in Google Reader, however, for over two years, I rarely check them or visit a blog directly. It’s too much noise and so much great info is lost to me (many sites using the same source, copy/pasting directly from other sites, etc.).

It can be difficult for me to find quality posts in a waterfall of redundant information, but I’ve found a solution that works for me:

I depend on a filtered system of social groupings to share links with me (that are relevant to my life) to update me with useful info. I follow specific friends, colleagues and industry leaders on Twitter and other filtered streams like FriendFeed because they consistently share links to content that are similar to my own search patterns. In turn, I also share links on a daily basis to contribute to the feedback loop that I am trying to cultivate.

I think of my filtered system as a garden. When I want to “grow” more or less info about a particular topic, I pare down contacts or add more who contribute news and ideas about that topic. It’s a malleable, personalized way to quickly access information. For example, I will need to know more about the Seattle music scene for an upcoming project. To aid my search, I will start to follow several Twitter accounts that promote local Seattle bands, local music/nightlife writers and subscribe to local music blogs. I will also use music sites like Meebo, Pandora and to find communities who track and promote Seattle bands and subscribe to their updates. In this way, the news and info I want will come to me at a consistent stream, through tweets, email updates, SMS and specific Google Alerts (keywords Seattle, bands, nightlife, culture, etc.). After the project is over, I may choose to remove these accounts from my filtered system or keep them, depending on how much I enjoy/appreciate the chatter.

I check these social groups (usually through my mobile phone, on the go) and their updates before I spread my focus to actual sites. For me, it’s all about being efficient with my time. I don’t want to be stuck at a desk or even a laptop, when I could quickly check a recommended link on my way out the door. I am a multitasker and enjoy learning about different topics, so a constant stream of compelling data that I can access “on-demand” is great. I respect the tastes and views of my peers and have learned that I can find out about much more focused, relevant info (and much faster!) by tapping into their own link sharing habits.

I hope that more teachers and parents develop their own filtered system. It makes it a lot easier to stay “plugged in” to what young people are interested in and provides a way to quickly send feedback to those in your system.

You’ve recently returned from the Blogher conference in Chicago. Can you tell us more about BlogHer, why you were there and what happened? I was invited to be a panel speaker at this year’s BlogHer conference. It was my first time speaking, so that alone made the trip pretty significant.
I was on a panel that covered the “transformational power of blogging” and I shared examples of how I used blogging and other blogs as tools to assist me in my career and personal transformation. Through blogging, I identified mentors who I met IRL, discovered internships and job opportunites and helped others with their career goals. Blogging also opened up my mind to new ideas and experiences which have increased my quality of life OFF the web, so it was great to share my story in person.

BlogHer was a conference comprised of many women (and some men!) with many different interests. It was fascinating to see groupings and “tribes” around topics such as parenting, technology, education and media. There was a lot of information being shared.

I met several great people at BlogHer who I would like to collaborate with someday, such as Ramona Pringle, the Interactive Media Producer for “Digital Nation.” She interviewed me at the BlogHer conference and we were able to briefly chat afterwards. I’m inspired by her work and looking forward to learning more about her different

We know you fulfilled a life-long dream of being interviewed for PBS…where can we find the interview online? You can see a clip of that interview on the PBS YouTube channel

In July, you were one of the very generous and talented people who helped make our LAMPcamp such a success! What was your favorite part? I enjoyed assisting the students in stepping out of their comfort zones, while enjoying their collective and individual learning process. For example, students who appeared to be shy were, by the end of the week, able to approach strangers on the street to gather interviews for their video projects. These are small steps that, in the long run, are going to help them achieve their dreams. Being able to overcome discomfort and fears is a huge deal and often the biggest barrier.

What advice would you give to young people who want to become producers? Identify individuals who are doing things that interest you and reach out to them. Stay in touch and offer to help them with their projects. Most importantly, let them know what your goals are.
Even if you’re not sure if you want to be a producer but simply like the idea of shooting, producing and editing, share that. Be as specific as you can when you ask for help. (Most) people can’t read minds so don’t assume people know what you are seeking, let them know! You’ll be surprised by how helpful people can be.

Lastly, I would say don’t let the fear of “no” keep you away from your dreams. “No” sometimes just means “Not right now, but check back again at another time.” Prior to being hired by MTV News, I had to meet with people there over six times to finally hear a “Yes.” Don’t take “no” personally and always follow up. “No” is just a word and it’s not worth sacrificing your dreams to avoid it.

What are you looking forward to? This fall I am going to produce a short film about a group of teen boys in the South Bronx, who find friendship within the Afro-Punk subculture. It will address how music, popular culture and familial conflict intersect and how this impacts identity and self worth. The director, Bashira Webb, is from The Bronx and an ICP (International Center for Photography) fellow. She is the co-founder of The Bridge Project, a youth mentorship project providing photography skills, and was very active in the Afro-Punk scene for many years.

Our goal is to submit to as many festivals as we can, then attend screenings to discuss the issues addressed in the short. We also want to create an online platform that will empower young people to pursue their dreams, through workshops and supporting existing online communities.

We are currently raising funds and seeking to partner with dynamic organizations. If you’d like to contribute in any capacity and learn more about the project, contact me at daniela.capistrano [AT]

My work life is full of possibilities. I am excited about freelancing on projects that I can be passionate about, engaging with new colleagues and starting an exciting gig on September 15th.

In terms of my own education, I am also a recently elected Senator within The New School’s USS. My platform is to develop a student-to-student mentorship program for the purpose of collaboration and career advancement. I was never into student government in High School so I’ve been enjoying learning more about my school and contributing to projects that will benefit students and the community at large.

And of course, I’m looking forward to collaborating with The LAMP on upcoming projects, spreading media literacy goodness to as many parents, educators and young people as possible. 🙂

You can stay updated about my plans for world domination and media moguldom