The Edge: Mu-Ming Tsai Documents the Maker Movement
November 26, 20133 min read
Novedge: Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do
Mu-Ming Tsai: My name is Mu-Ming, I'm a film director and also the founder of Muris, a production company based in Taipei. I have worked on music videos short films and commercials. I am also the director of the film Design & Thinking.
Novedge: Why a documentary film about the Maker Movement?
Mu-Ming Tsai: When we screened our previous film, Design & Thinking, we received feedback about not having enough voices of Makers. That's when we started doing research on the Maker movement. For our initial research, we read and saw some films, and noticed that most of them focused on the technological side of the Maker Movement. We realize the Maker Movement isn't exclusively technical, so we decided to focus more on its impact on innovation and society as a whole.
Novedge: What has been your process in planning and filming Maker?
Mu-Ming Tsai: First we did a lot of research. Usually, when we have an idea, it takes us about a month to start working on it. We generally start going for it once we have a 70-80% understanding of the subject. Once we talked about Maker to our producer, YuHsiu Yang, he gave us a list of potential interviewees, and helped us set up meetings with them. He was planning a trip to the United States at the time and we thought we'd go with him as well. It took us two trips, 10 days each, to film the needed footage. Everyday we filmed about 2-3 interviews. After that, we started editing and planning for our Kickstarter campaign. Right now we are in post production and planning for our release in May 2014.
Novedge: Is there anything you discovered while making this movie that really surprised you?
Mu-Ming Tsai: We were interested in the ecosystem of the makers. There was this conception that Makers are loners, one-man armies who develope products from scratch by themselves. In fact the Maker Movement is actually a group of like-minded people working together and trying to make ideas take shape, whether utilizing rapid prototyping, crowd funding, or crowd sourcing.
During our interviews we learned a lot about local manufacturing and global manufacturing. A lot of small, local factories, are able to co-exist with overseas manufacturers as they have different roles in manufacturing, which was really interesting because we had this idea that all factories were very corporate and big. So getting to visit a small, independent factory was eye opening.
Novedge: What were some of the Maker Movement's most amazing accomplishments?
Mu-Ming Tsai:TheMaker Movement is amazing in its prototyping and capacity to empower. Seeing so many companies roll out with great concepts and innovations is really refreshing and it gives a sense of empowerment. Rapid prototyping has allowed innovations to go from idea to product in a way that used to only be doable by big corporations. As a founder of a three-person company, I find that inspiring.
Novedge: You received great support on Kickstarter: what advice would you give to anyone looking into financing their project using that platform?
Mu-Ming Tsai: What you need to know about Kickstarter is that the most funding you will be getting won't be from strangers. Most of the initial funding comes from friends and family, and some from friends of friends. Strangers won't automatically discover great projects, so fast planning and promotion for the campaign are needed. For us, our fanbase from our previous film, Design & Thinking, helped with a lot of our initial fundings.
Having a good promo film helps a lot as well. The promo video needs to be short, informative, and it needs to leave the viewers wanting more. Excitement is what will prompt people to support your cause.
As we are promoting Maker, we also learned that backing other projects helps! Kickstarter is a big and tight community and it always helps if you show that you care.
Novedge: What's next for you?
Mu-Ming Tsai: I'm still interested in making films about innovation and design. It's a niche and for now we want to focus on that.