Monday, December 12, 2011

Michigander Monday: Jay Miles

I'm pleased to welcome Jay Miles to Michigander Monday!

Debbie:  Jay, please tell us a little about yourself.

Jay:  I was born in Muskegon, MI, the same year that ARPANET (a predecessor of the Internet) saw its first computers connected remotely (and I’ve been riding the wave of technology ever since!). I moved to the Washington, DC area as a young teen, and started learning about TV production in high school. I studied technical theatre at the University of Virginia, moving to New York City after graduation. I later landed in New Haven, Connecticut, where the coffeehouse scene pushed my growth as an artist. Over the next few years, I ran a small record label, worked for several ad agencies, wrote for the local paper and dabbled in graphic design. All of these pursuits came together in 2001, when I was accepted into the TV, Radio and Film master’s program at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communication.

From Syracuse I drove to LA and spent the next 5 years working in TV and film, including shows for NBC, FOX, ABC and the Discovery Channel. Since returning to the East Coast, I have worked on broadcasts of “The NHL on Versus” (now part of the NBC sports group), two shows for HGTV and the US Open tennis tournament (for DirecTV). I currently teach high school video and audio production and I’m a hockey player, poker player and drummer. I live near New Haven with my cat, Ruffus.

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your book, Conquering YouTube.

JayThe book merges production skills used by TV pros with time-tested exercises I use with my video students. The book’s 101 tips provide affordable, effective video solutions to all YouTube users.
My initial idea was to help teachers benefit from creating video for use in their classrooms. Teachers are being pushed to use more and more technology, but often have to find their own quick, economical solutions. I approached publisher Michael Wiese, who suggested that I take a broader approach: to bring video power to the people. Michael also encouraged me to stay away from writing an overly technical manual, so I was free to keep my sense of humor and write from a perspective of empowerment. And, for the most part, I feel like I managed to do just that - bringing a wealth of video tips and tricks to YouTuber and to those who are curious about video.

I was also responsible for creating the images for the book, which took almost as long to finish as it took to write the text. I generated over 500 images and narrowed that down to some 200 images that appear in the book. They include “how-to” style pics, before and after shots and images taken from YouTube videos and major motion pictures. I spent the summer of 2010 working with LA-based editor Pam Grieman, who did a fantastic job keeping me focused and positive. This was the first time I had been edited in about 10 years, and I was a nervous wreck, but Pam was super patient and helpful.
My vision had been to bring as much knowledge and video tips to as many as possible, and Michael and his publishing team were able to give me the chance to make that happen, without compromising my ideas or pushing me away from my strengths or the strengths of the book. All told, the entire process took about 2 ½ years, from my first “pitch” email to MWP until the day we released the book.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Jay:  In addition to teaching, I have several upcoming video productions going, including a music video for a New Haven rock band and a documentary that I am co-producing that centers on some unexpected religious history in a small Connecticut town.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Jay:  This coming February 23rd, I’ll be giving a special workshop for aspiring YouTubers at New York City’s celebrated camera store, Adorama. Also in late February, I will be an honored guest for the New Haven LEAP organization’s annual fundraiser. The event includes a book signing and a dinner.

Debbie:  Do you have favorite Michigan library?

Jay:  The Hackley Public Library and the Norton Shores Branch Library, both in Muskegon, remain two of my favorite libraries. I visited both frequently as a kid, and they both provided excellent experiences. As libraries, they offered a huge variety of activities for kids that were both fun and stimulating. The classic Victorian markings of the Hackley, from the woodwork to the famous glass floors, are just awesome. The stone front rises like a castle from the downtown streets and its smooth, curved entrance almost swallows you as you near.

The Norton Shores branch of the Muskegon libraries is a modern building set back in the woods organically, almost like a Frank Lloyd Wright home, serving as a quiet barrier against the modern world. I recall countless evenings at this library, sitting on one of the many carpeted “block”-style risers, gazing out of the full length windows at the trees and ignoring my mother’s calls for us to leave.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Jay:  Wow, just had a flood of places come rushing back to me! I love the shore of Lake Michigan, especially P.J. Hoffmaster State Park and Pere Marquette Park. As a kid we vacationed at Silver Lake and the dune rides still resonate as some of my most thrilling experiences. Sleeping Bear Dunes in Traverse City is a must, as is the campus at the U of M. The town of Saugatuck set an early standard for me for art, adventure, ice cream and fun. I love visiting Holland’s Wooden Shoe Factory and Dutch Village. I am way overdue for a return visit to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. I dig the Blockhouse in Muskegon State Park, football games at Grand Valley State and touring the USS Silversides. But my favorite might be Michigan's Adventure – the amusement park. I was there recently, and was thrilled to see that some of the same rides that I enjoyed as a kid (when the site was much smaller, featured live animals you could feed and was known as Deer Park) are still in operation. Some things never change.

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Jay:  Does it count that I got to see the Michigan Panthers (of the now defunct USFL) play at the Silverdome once? Yeah, probably not… I make the ritual pilgrimage to see Grand Haven’s Musical Fountain during my summer visits. Pop Go the Sailors, the annual Mona Shores High School choir/band/talent performance, is always awesome. Watching West Michigan natives (Abdelkader, Bylsma) capture the Stanley Cup is always the best part of Spring! And I try to see a hockey game in Muskegon during every Holiday visit – no matter the team. I’ve seen Mohawk, Fury and Lumberjack teams and I love ‘em all!

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Jay:  Some of my fave famous Michiganders are Anthony Kiedes (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Iggy Pop, Michael Moore, actor/producer Jeff Daniels, Francis Ford Coppola, Dick Martin, Dick Enberg, Steve Gorman (drummer, Black Crowes), and the late Harry Morgan. I grew up leafing through my mom’s old high school yearbooks trying to find pictures of Jim Bakker – back in his pre-scandal days. She also went to school with Bill Szymczyk, producer for The Who, The Eagles, and others. Buster Keaton spent his childhood summers in Muskegon and always regarded Muskegon as his home town. And I love that the actor and former hockey pro who played one of the Hanson Brothers (from ‘Slap Shot’) still lives in West Michigan.

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Jay:  It’s not soda, it's pop. And you haven’t really had a ginger ale until you’ve had a Vernor’s!

Debbie:  Finally, some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: what’s the better term, "Michigander" or "Michiganian"?

Jay:  I’ve actually never heard anyone say "Michiganian"! LOL So, I am firmly in the "Michigander" clan!

Debbie:  Michigander it is!  Jay, thank you very much for being here today for Michigander Monday!


To learn more about Jay and his book, stop by his web site, his Facebook page, or his Twitter feed.

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