Monday, June 10, 2013

Interview With Pooky Amsterdam Part Two

By Bixyl Shuftan

For Part One of the interview, Click Here

When I interviewed Second Life media personality Pooky Amsterdam last month, she had quite a bit to say about her experiences. We soon ran out of time, and agreed to meet up the next day. The following evening, she invited me over to the set of "The 1st Question" in the Sci-Lands.

Arriving at the place, it was of course empty except for the two of us, Quite different from when it was bustling with avatars during shows. She invited me to sit at her desk, at the co-host's chair.

Pooky Amsterdam: "I know there's enough room for your tail, Hydra sits there. … That was one thing I had asked for when the set was redesigned - Please leave room for Hydra's tail."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Yeah, distracting as heck if it's cramped (grin)."

Pooky Amsterdam: "Heh (grin), gotta know that. … What are you doing at RFL this year?"

Bixyl Shuftan: "Covering events here and there mostly."

Pooky Amsterdam: "Woohoo! Well, that makes sense. … Great, and it is all for a great cause. The help, and the personalized help this Relay gives is something pretty amazing. The way people who have cancer can find help, I mean that too. Fay Foley said to me that there was a woman who was afraid of needles. She couldn't burden her family with her fear of pain as it were. And well, her doctor didn't understand, but it made her very reluctant to seek treatment. And by talking to people here by being able to open up and come out on that to express it freely with those who understand - well it helped her beat that and she got the treatment and help she needed."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Let's see, … the Time Travelers show … "

Pooky Amsterdam: "It's like a traveling band of troubadors who create modern music in the past dimensions. Okay, not true. It's a different story, the troubadours."

Bixyl Shuftan: "You once had a different idea for the machinma?"

Pooky Amsterdam: "More than once. I have new ideas all the time."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How did the idea for the machinima arise?"

Pooky Amsterdam: "It came from discussions I was having with Dr James canton of the Institute for Global Futures. We had been talking about how great it would be to use SL for a studio set and to do a series. He was doing some work with the SLFC & iHelp student Loan. The idea of three teens who travel to the future and meet their older selves and a battle for the Good Singularity came out of these talks. They came out of discussions … about the importance of college education and what what kind of skills kids will need in the future what kind of jobs and enterprise there will be and how they need to equip themselves. We both have daughters in their early 20's too. And of course the futuristic builds and the natural sci-fiction feeling that you are in another world here, well these things contributed too."

Bixyl Shuftan: " … you had a daughter?"

Pooky Amsterdam: "Yes she is 20. I am truly grateful to have this amazing young woman in my life. The greatest joy is being her mom."

Bixyl Shuftan: "What does she think of Second Life and what you do here?"

Pooky Amsterdam: "She has come into SL but didn't have the desire at that moment to plunge on in. She is in college so that does take a lot of focus and time. She thinks it's kind of cool and she also has done the voice of Mariah in the Time Travelers too."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oh, she has?"

Pooky Amsterdam: "She is more interested in the other side of the screen though, I think right now. Yes she has. I play the older Mariah, and she the younger."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oh yes, I thought I recognized the voice. (grin)"

Pooky Amsterdam: "(I'm) not always easy to hide (grin)."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Time Travelers is still a series in progress. About how long will it take to finish?"

Pooky Amsterdam: "Well, we are on episode 6 now. It's a very long episode about 12 minutes. This might take us about 4 months or so. The entire series, I am not sure. We might extend it to some things about futurism and the Singularity onto the web and through social media."

Bixyl Shuftan: "You've done a few other videos, including a parody of "Date Your Avatar." (Link)

Pooky Amsterdam: "Yes we have done a bunch of films indeed. I saw Date Your Avatar when it was at 398 hits."

Bixyl Shuftan: "I don't recall another video of yours based on another. What inspired this?"

Pooky Amsterdam: "Well, I'm seeing the film and I had two very distinct thoughts. One, they had missed an opportunity to not use actual avatars. And two, 'Date your avatar?' Hahhahahah! I'm too busy to date your avatar."

Bixyl Shuftan chuckles

Pooky Amsterdam: "So then I saw myself at this desk actually, and I'm getting business deals and have to do things professionally for the show, and then I have a date and 'oh gee I just cant make it tonight' with the opener. The concept kind of was there. It was Draxtor Despres whose genius in film making and ability to embrace all kinds of elements, well it was a great collaboration, including a musician he knows called Samuels Dream."

"It was something that we worked on, and really captured something great, the loneliness and alienation of fame, the pressure as well, the need for love the plaintive cry, and the tines. Some of the things would evolve as we shot them, which isn't our usual style really, things are pretty well laid down in pre-production and the filming takes the shortest amount of time so this was something that did have a life of its own."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Yes, it did get attention among the residents."

Pooky Amsterdam: "Yes. and became a meme in a way too. …That was the first film I collaborated with Drax on where he was director. I had met him in NYC during the last state of play and knew the minute he said hello, he had to be the voice for Dr Occam. We were just casting 'Shrink Wrapped' then."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oh really?"

Pooky Amsterdam: "(I)love working with him, and we have gone on to other films.  He shot the 'Troubleshooter 2' for Sclera Designs. and of course we worked on the 'Flufee on a Meshion' series." (link)

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oh yes, that proved to be a hit."

Pooky Amsterdam: "Loads of fun."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Did you expect to do so many videos of Flufee?"

Pooky Amsterdam: "Well, I knew there would be (more) Flufee Episodes. I don't have to have scope on something like that. It was great to do. I guess I didn't, but was pleased the reaction was so positive. And that of course makes you want to do more. We were invited to show 'Monster Mesh' at the New Media Film festival. so it will be there actually this summer."

Bixyl Shuftan: " 'Doing the Monster Mesh' (grins)"

Pooky Amsterdam: "Heh, that film I actually do look at a lot. It makes me laugh."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Heh heh, I imagine loads of residents were."

Pooky Amsterdam: "That is a film that I also think has a very good crossover feel.  You don't have to know what Second Life is, or game engines, or machinima. It's an entertaining film. And in the end that is the goal, to make something that stands on its own."

Bixyl Shuftan: "With the possibilities of Second Life mentioned so much, I imagine you've thought of the SL10B coming up, the tenth anniversary, not to mention it's theme, 'Looking Back, Looking Forward.' "

Pooky Amsterdam: "Yes I have. I'm hoping we can do a '1st Question 'edition for it or a special like a 'Yay Me or Nay Me' the SL way, and have some things on Second Life as the content for the questions. It's going to be pretty interesting. If the residents and people who know and love the grid had been supportive of Linden Lab and Second Life over the years in a kind of joyous unison, I think that would have reflected well on the grid. The folks who are in here are the ones who know more and more firsthand what being a resident means, although not perfect. I have tried to portray SL to others in the light I find it, incredibly creative and compelling a true learning experience."

"I hope that people will reflect in the greater press on what the positives are. I think in the end it will draw more people and opportunity than the dishing and negatives one can find. But of course, its a free press and should be. In no way would I say not speak of what is important, but … I wish that people would have that broader thinking cap on of how is this really going to appear to those who aren't my next sim neighbor. Just my reflection on it, but I love Second Life and I do think that machinima is a great ambassador."

"I don't need people to love SL, or come here or accept me for wanting to live a virtual life. I just must have the films look great.  I do think of Second Life as my nation though, and will defend it. It's funny, but we all learn so much about ourselves in here, and also what we are capable of in terms of work, in terms of the work we do for love, and it has been inspiring to the greatest degree to meet the people I have here, including people who are definitely my lifelong friends, and of course the people I work with too."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Besides finishing up 'Time Travellers,' what other plans did you have in the future?"

Pooky Amsterdam: "My past future plans? My present future plans? or my future future plans? 'The future is happening baby.' "

Bixyl Shuftan: "Well, all of them if you like."

Pooky Amsterdam: "In the past, like if there was no SL in my life, I really have no clue. Funny isn't it? I try to think what would I have been doing? I don't know. Maybe (I) would have started back doing some stand-up comedy. I had been a regular at the 'Comic Strip' In New York City. Would definitely have been writing no matter what."

"My present future plans are of course to produce more films and keep working in the professional way we do. We might be doing some videos for a new app actually. The principals have seen our work and we are working on some new material for this project. I feel honored to be working with these people. I can't really say more - it's hush-hush. The opportunity to have the work be called so original, and to have a company like this want to use us is great though. So I see real growth here."

"We have also another 'Vector Control' film out in the fall. It's finished, but the district asked us not to make the film public until they launch their educational program around it. So, well thats exciting!"

"I am working on a book on Virtual World Television with Carrielynn Reinhard. That is going to be pretty incredible too. We interviewed over 3 producers. It is about TV production in Second Life for a number of reasons too. The IP rights, the free tools of creation here, the talented residents, and the inworld networks. No other place has a comprehensive environment as this. We are going to be also talking about the very early days of Virtual tv with something the BBC had going in the late 90's called 'Inhabited TV' where the audience, those watching, could also participate in the program. It is about how TV has been co-opted within the virtual world universe."

"It will be fascinating I think, and with all the second screen discussions now. Well Bix, you know I think the future is 'What are you doing on TV tonight Honey?' Not who are you texting during it, or are you watching on Hulu, or Netflix. It's profound, the kind of work that so many producers have done in SL. I think what we are doing is the Grail for the (mainstream media) in many ways."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Interesting thought."

"Might the 1st Question reappear soon in regular episodes?"

Pooky Amsterdam: "I have had to scale the show back recently this year, as we have gotten so busy. And the book has been also consuming time. The show takes about 20 hours a week to produce, write and book. So right this moment, I cant say when. But I do want to continue it. I also want to put out the 'PookyPedia,' the lexicon of words."

"The show is constructed very tightly and the script for it has to be written, well you know that. Hee hee."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Heh (grins).  Well, it's getting late. Was there anything else you wanted to add?"

Pooky Amsterdam: "How grateful I am to be working with some of the greatest folks ever, people who bring humor and hard work ethic to everything, that know the human effort this all takes and how great they are. I would thank them all, Robwag Soothsayer, Russell Boyd, Petlove Petshop, Emo Wei, RIchard G Roberto, Draxtor Despres, Claus Gahrn, Rysan Fall, Lapiscean LIberty too and the great folks who do the voiceover work. RIcky Grove of course not only for his star turn in Zanzibar, but for being also a great inspiration and friend.  I would also thank him for asking me to be Programming Chair for the Machinima-Expo last November."

Pooky Amsterdam: "You know Bixyl, it takes people who know you and are motivated and want to make something greater than ourselves happen. We are able to do this also because, make no mistake, we find each other. And we learn and we grow and we achieve together. It's been the best place on Earth for me many a night and day. And in fact in some of the darkest nights, as well as brightest dawns. … It's like I have found my tribe here! Here are folks who see what the possibilities are, and want to make something really wondrous."

"And the shopping isn't too bad either. Woahahhahahahahhaah!"

Bixyl Shuftan chuckles, "Yeah, no other shopping experience *quite* like in Second Life."

Pooky Amsterdam: "Totally, and that expanding closet known as inventory, well
[01:33]  Pooky Amsterdam: it really works. Though one of my favorite words in PookyPedia comes from Harper Beresford: 'Inventoil.' "

Bixyl Shuftan: "Heh, I have a guess that that means."

Pooky Amsterdam: "Which is, of course trimming your inventory in one of those not too busy moments of Second Life which never really lasts long."

 Bixyl Shuftan: "That pretty much covers all the questions I had, Pooky, thank you.  I'll have the Interview up soon."

Pooky Amsterdam: "… I hope its interesting for people to read. … We all do our things, 'dance like no one is watching.' (grin)"

"Bixyl thank you, and please let me know when it's on the webwave!"

Pooky Amsterdam's personal blog is at . Her company, PookyMedia, has it's website at . She is also on Twitter and Facebook. And of course she can be seen at events at Second Life, giving an occasional discussion about social media, future technology, and other subjects. Expect her at the SL10B event.

Bixyl Shuftan

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