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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spotlight On Pooky Amsterdam, CEO of PookyMedia, Machinima Production Allen Eppenberger Reporting…

            Pooky Amsterdam is amongst a handful of people in Second Life that have instant name recognition. She's prominently known for her Machinima productions and her production company, PookyMedia. She's produced clips for a variety of clients, including Linden Lab itself. If you do a search for television shows with her name, you get numerous returns. Her YouTube channel has received over 1.2 million views. One of her early experiences with VR has been Habbo Hotel, where she was producing videos as well.

            I had the tremendous good fortune to be able to sit down with Pooky on a Thursday evening for a chat about herself and her values in both her company and in Second Life. While my interviews are usually short and pointed, I discovered an hour had passed by the time we were wrapping up! She's a very open and easy personality to get to know, and I'm glad to count her as one of my friends in SL.

Allen Eppenberger: So I've been doing my homework about you. You are a very busy person!

 Pooky Amsterdam: Indeed, busy seems to be a great word, and that I am.

A.E: I manage to see your name appear from time to time, so I know you get around.

P.A: Thank you - I hope in the better places, but you know, I have no control over who writes my name in the bathroom stall!

A.E: LOL! I hit SL related blogs so I can pretty much think it's you doing the comments.

 P.A: Yes, and I do write on my own from time to time as well.

 A.E: You have a ton of your own blogs! I believe there are something like 6 related to PookyMedia alone.

P.A: Well, Allen, there is one blog, two quiz shows, and then the films division, and the testimonials are extra. The main umbrella site is PookyMedia. It's a great thing to be able to express ones opinion. Sort of like that saying “the power of the press belongs to those who publish” - and now many of us know that power.

A.E: indeed. I know that you previously used Habbo Hotel. When did you first decide to come to SL?

Pooky Amsterdam: I first came in November of 2006 to see what Second Life was, but only to see why people were having trouble with it so much, as I had the intention at that time to build my own virtual world. That didn't happen for a few reasons. In retrospect, it was the right thing not to do at the time.

A.E: So you learned the intricacies by default, huh?

P.A: Well, I didn't return to SL until March of 2008. So when I returned, it was for a marketing conference on VW. And I knew quite a bit about virtual worlds, and I met some people who would be very influential to my Second Life. That March, it was actually, gee, about 4 years ago! Woah!

A.E: Ah, kind of like myself. This is my third incarnation as an SL avi. :-)

P.A: Yes I saw! I read your profile.

A.E: LOL I'm a VRML native. My original home was So I'm comfortable with VR. What is the inspiration behind your video “A Year in the Life - Second Life”? It's a wonderful "newbie" video.

Pooky Amsterdam: S;-D Thank you. Well, I was taken under an oldie's wing when I came here, and Lee Ponzu, a great first friend here, gave me a pith helmet (he really did) to help me hide my noob hair.

And I thought about how we grow and develop. How we don't know when we log in at first that we will be - reporters - or superheroes - or design shoes or planes or whatever it is that we discover - and it's that journey of discovery that also makes SL so wonderful.

A.E: So it's loosely based on your own SL experience?

P.A: Yes to some extent sure.

A.E: Cool!

P.A: Not 100% autobiographical - but yes, that you begin to bond with who you know - what you are doing and of course what YOU can do that keeps it so exciting.

A.E: I never thought I'd be a reporter myself, and now. LOL

P.A: Yes, exactly! It's that thing - you are drawn to that which an inner voice leads you to and it’s really an incredible thing to find. It's like having a hobby shop at home with everything you need and your best friends.

Allen Eppenberger: What kind of feedback did you get when you did [the video] “Shrink Wrapped”?

Pooky Amsterdam: Ok, “Shrink Wrapped”! Oh it was funny; a few people said I must have stolen their diaries!


P.A: The inspiration for that was someone I knew inworld and knew her professional life, with a company that was not her impersonal life, and thought about that, of course and how and what happens when you also have unlimited choice in front of you.

A.E: I liked the way you handled multiple personality disorders in a lighthearted manner.

P.A: Well, it’s multiple avatar personalities. She evolved really from each one a bit. And as people were the problem, well, she became a pussycat. But that didn't solve the inner problem.

A.E: The pussycat solution was hilarious!

P.A: *big smile* Thank you. I have thought of a few other episodes since then too, but will see. I'm hoping for a sponsorship from Prozac for the series. S'-p

A.E: LOL@Prozac.

Allen Eppenberger: Your team is currently working on a series called “Time Travelers”, which is now in its fourth episode. Is there an underlying theme, besides “saving humanity”? I get the impression from the characters Mariah, Trevor, and Sofia that staying in school is definitely a good thing!

Pooky Amsterdam: Well, excellent! Then that is the idea that we in these United States need to believe. Embrace and face the challenge of higher education. Of really facing head on the technology and underlying consequences of our behavior too. Recently there have been a few articles on how robotics will end 2 billion jobs worldwide. There are many questions to be dealt with, one being education, and being ready for them. I think of J.K. Rowling's call for Vigilance; to be vigilant, to be aware. This is very important. The discussions are multi-leveled. We are complex thinkers and can do this!

A.E: Ah, robotics. That's a whole other interview! Have you had any formal college training?

P.A: I have a degree in both economics and one in urban affairs.

A.E: heh. I have a diploma in TV repair. Then the whole economy changed when Wal-Mart made televisions disposable.

P.A: I know that eWaste is a huge problem.

A.E: no kidding!

P.A: There was an article today on why not to buy the new iPad. But I wonder why; will faster equal better always? (To which I think I have an answer.) There is a point where you will have diminishing returns on speed just as you have now on multiple ad impressions -people tune out.

A.E: Tech is eventually going to flat line at a set speed, and most of the "new tech" is going to be superfluous.

P.A: There is a great J.M. Barrie quote I love.
"You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by. But some of them are golden only because we let them slip." - JM Barrie

P.A: It is what you do with it not what you watch. We no longer sit back and relax. It is now for us to engage, to be part of. Heck, Pinterest got to 10 million users last month! Instagram hit 27 million. We want to create content and we want to be part of the site. Now we will want to be part of the program soon, too.

A.E: Yup. Brainy quotes are good. It keeps people thinking outside the box. I've been resisting Pinterest because I don't have time!

P.A: I joined. I mean, I saw that Cupcake ATM machine from Sprinkles in LA and thought, 24/7 cupcake? I have to post that!

Allen Eppenberger: Has PookyMedia ever covered political aspects and stories in SL, or virtual reality in general?

Pooky Amsterdam: What do you mean political stuff?

A.E: Well, something different from the usual entertainment features. Things like news stories. "Politics" was my first thought.

P.A: Have you ever watched “The 1st Question”?

A.E: Sadly, no. I've been meaning to get to watching it.

P.A: Okay, when you see it you will know that I certainly have an interest in the world around us. I like to give my audience breaking news from all quarters such as DARPA, to all kinds of inventions in the green and medical fields, I also frame the questions in  a way that i hope is both humorous and pertinent. Yay me's or nay me's are fun true / false statements and do encompass a political/ socio / economic reality in a sense. I have been talking about the income gap for almost 4 years. Inworld Politics like about  Rod Humble, or direct delivery, or things like this, not really, no.

A.E: And that I understand. I've tried to catch some of your other interviews, like “In the Avatars Studio”.

P.A: I was very open in that interview. I'm very fond of Phelan Corrimal, and so I was happy to be, well, relaxed a bit. Talked more in general.

A.E: That's probably a good thing in retrospect. Too many people cover the negatives in SL already.

P.A: Well, you know it's tough to say “I love what I am doing and where I am" when in the next breath you can’t wait to rant over something. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but sometimes I wonder. I will say this, and it might be from my early life, but I don't think it is a good thing to lift yourself up by putting someone else down. I believe you are then standing on very shaky ground. It takes all kinds in the world. We people are “human v.1.0”. That doesn't seem to change. The anonymity that SL affords, though, allows people to vent in behavior extremes, if they choose. But one thing you can't hide is character.

A.E: Good point. Default world or VR, people are still people. I like to think I'm the same in VR as RL, so my character is often on my sleeve! LOL

P.A: I like that. And why not? Again, who has time for deception? The world is angry and mad enough a place. This is where we can be more civilized, supportive, creative, majestic and caring. Where we can live up to our highest common denominator among us.

Allen Eppenberger: Can you reveal any plans for future productions?

Pooky Amsterdam: Well, we have TT5 going on now; we are filming paws to the wall. Also, TT6 will follow that. I think there might be a new film or two out about March 21st from us. And we are working on something very special, too. I like to not say much until I can give a link or URL. “Flufee”, the series I work on with Draxtor Despres, there will be a new Flufee episode out very soon too.

A.E: God, I listen to the MetaReality podcast. He's too funny! I've only watched a couple of Flufee episodes.

P.A: He is also the voice of Doctor Occam in “Shrink Wrapped”! I met Drax at the State of Play in 2008 or 09, and when I heard his voice I said “Okay, now we can do this Shrink Wrapped. I have found the doctor”.

A.E: I thought so. The set is very familiar, that's why.

P.A: The people I work with are wonderful and truly PookyMedia is a TEAM effort and wouldn't exist without a team.

A.E: And I was asked to ask you if you had any words of advice for others?

P.A: Yes, work with people you appreciate and can count on! Just as any quality entertainment takes a team, look at any movie for example, we don't have crew like that but it’s important to have people who do the best at what they do in each part. Partnerships and team work will take your efforts to another level in entertainment production.

A.E: You make a HUGE statement about your team in PookyMedia in “Inside the Avatar Studio”. I was very impressed with that.

P.A: Well, they call me the Captain, and it’s true. But you know you go nowhere alone on this vast sea without a good crew and company.

A.E: Lead by example, huh?

P.A: We do what we do because we must. We are driven also by a passion to create. To manifest one of the greatest glories you can make happen, I think, is to put into action what you see in your mind's eye. And if I have one quote that drives me, indeed it is this: "To know and not to do, is not to know".

A.E: That's a good quote. Words to live by.

P.A: Well, words to “action” by.

A.E: Indeed.

P.A.: I'm very grateful for the people I have met here. Truly grateful.
I believe we are very fortunate to have a place where we can live up to the best potential we have. It has been great talking with you today, and I really appreciate it.

A.E : The pleasure and honor is ours at The SLenquirer, thank you Pooky


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