Design Reactor & Rotten Tomatoes album

I started Design Reactor in June 1997 with my partner Patrick Lee. Design Reactor eventually morphed in to Rotten Tomatoes (same team, same office) which I remained with until 2005 when I moved to China. Here are photos from our original Design Reactor (1997-2000) and Rotten Tomatoes (2000-2005) teams.

My Top Films of 2015

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road

Since childhood, the Road Warrior series has existed in the same realm of mythic action blockbusters as the Star Wars original trilogy, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, etc… even though they were so totally different in texture and genre. Nonetheless, it felt like director George Miller was operating on the same level of world-making albeit on a far smaller budget and with a more punk rock, dangerous feel.

Flash forward 30+ years, past his strange but even more successful journey in to the “Babe” and “Happy Feet” series, and George Miller proves again that he has more energy, creativity, and action blockbuster adreneline running in his 70 year old veins than all of the younger blockbuster directors half his age (yes, JJ Abrahms and Joss Whedon included).

Mad Max: Fury Road
What drugs was George Miller taking when he dreamt up this insane shot, almost all practicals shot in-lens? What was the reaction of his crew (and poor Tom Hardy) when he showed them what he wanted?

There are “films” and there are “movies” and Fury Road distinctly falls in the second category, gliding effortless like some crazy, distilled, freebased movie drug working it’s chemicals in every sensory nerve. I understand many people might be turned off by the excess spectacle, but I prefer to celebrate this directorial masterpiece as the absolute peak of movie-making – visions, rhythm, and choreography that demand multiple viewings on the big silver screen.

Mad Max: Fury Road
The movie gave us the best action heroine since Ripley in “Aliens”. Miller knows that the best action spectacle and operatic melodrama can operate in the same plane of existence.

I’m disappointed that Miller didn’t receive Best Director at the Oscars this year.

2. Room

Room Poster

The less you know about this film, the better. If you haven’t heard or seen this film, I would advise stopping here and watching it with as little knowledge as possible.

That being said, I’ll say that this film is just ambitious as “Mad Max: Fury Road”. It’s also as ambitious as “Boyhood”, my favorite film from 2014.

Room
How do you tell a wrenching story of abuse and kidnapping from the subjective point-of-view of a five year old boy? How do you communicate the kid’s “rebirth” in a new world?

The film has been marketed with a high-concept: mainly that a mother and kid are locked in a room with almost no contact with the outside world for years on end. Certainly most of the attention had been paid on the first third of the film and how much thought has been paid towards the concept of a kid who has never seen the outside of the same four walls. Much has also been said about the amazing Brie Larson.

However, what really stood out for me was the subtle finesse and grace in the second part of the film when we break out into the greater world and see the ripple effects of the original crime. The film does a great job of portraying the viewpoint of five-year old Jack as he ventures outside for the first time. I loved the complex details of each of the supporting characters – the grandparents. the step-grandfather, the doctor, etc. In particular, a gripping scene in the middle of the film when a bit of excellent police work by a small supporting character leads to possibly the biggest applause moment of 2015.

Both “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Room” lead as my favorite films of 2015 because they speak the special language of film so well and in such an ambitious, but different ways and couldn’t be done by any other medium.

3. Creed

Creed

“Creed”, unlike the prior two movies, doesn’t quite have such an ambitious agenda. It’s an out-and-out crowdpleaser that happens to contain some performances and characters that are far better than expected for this kind of movie.

 

I’m already a huge Michael B. Jordan fan since “Friday Night Lights” and his seeming inevitable climb to being one of Hollywood’s greatest new stars is cemented by this performance. He’s always charismatic and a standout in all if his performances, but his portrayal in this film as an upper-middle class African American fighter with a chipmon his shoulder in a typically lower class sport is so specific that I feel like I’ve met and grew up with this character. This specificity extends through other performances.

Director Ryan Coogler knows just how to get the best from Stallone, letting the elder boxing trainer with one foot out the door into the next life play for maximum sentiment. Something tells me that Coogler is a big “Cosby Show” fan. Of course, there is the awesome Phyllisa Rashad delivering her usual classy motherly performance with inner strength. However, I was also getting a strong vibe from Tamara Robinson as the love interest. Most definitely we haven’t had enough big film on-screen portrayals of upper-middle class African Americans that everything devolved to a comparison to a TV show from 30 years ago.

creed_02
Tamara Robinson in the love interest role adds texture and characterization to her role as id there is a whole other film to be made with just her.

 

4. Brooklyn

brooklyn_poster

This is the feel-good, lovingly shot film that you can take your mother to (like I did). Like other films released in the late part of the year, the costuming is gorgeous, the characters tastefully acted, and it hits all of the right beats. Usually, I would question such Oscar bait-y  films. Yet, there are many things to love about this film. Saoirse Ronan is an unlikely lead, but shines through in this star-making performance and will definitely be seen in many future roles. The camera loves her wide eyed, expressive face. Nick Hornby screen writes and finally does away with his witty but occasionally overbearing tendency for unnecessary voiceover and lets the actors do their acting work. The film is populated with a dozen lively supporting roles that each have their own complexities. I was happy to watch the film twice and can safely recommend it for just about everyone.

brooklyn_01

5. The Martian

It was really tough to choose between Spotlight and The Martian for the last spot in the Top Five, but ultimately I have to go with the film that I feel like I’ll probably be re-watching (I’ve already watched it twice). I don’t think I need to go on further about how humorous and fun and awesome the movie makes science doing science-y work feel like. I will say that this is Ridley Scott returning to portraying interesting characters working together in an interesting team dynamic. Usually, his brother Tony Scott gets more recognized for this kind of “men being men in the military” kind of film, but Sir Ridley occasionally also excels when he reaches into this territory (or in this case, men and women being awesome together).

martian_poster

6. Spotlight

A great procedural drama… Everyone talks about Mark Ruffalo’s climax speech (something which inevitably play eventually in his “In Memoriam” clip), but I didn’t really grok to his performance — it seemed more like mimicry and took me out of the film. Instead, I really appreciated a lot of the smaller supporting performances: Liev Schreiber’s super-understated character with some fascinating choices. The handful of adult molestation victims were essentially cameo roles, but really were some of the best performances of the year. These were the things that stood out for me rather than the procedural flow of the film.

spotlight_poster

7. Spy

spy_poster

Comedies never get enough recognition come awards season, but there was ONE spy movie this year that excelled and it certainly didn’t have 007 in it.

8. Ex Machina

ex_machina_poster

Cool, sleek, and with an fascinating performance choice by Oscar Isaacs. It didn’t quite hit me quite as much as Her, but certainly had enough interesting points to it.

9. Paddington

paddington_poster

Released at the very beginning of 2015, this film had a horrible trailer but turned out to be a quirky, loving, and surprisingly good kids movie.

10. The Revenant

revenant_poster

I feel like Innaritu’s films are getting more and more about the spectacle and less about character. I’m placing this on my list just because of Emmanuel Lubezki’s miraculous cinematography and not because I especially liked the film or Leo’s performance.

Honorable Mentions

Ant Man antman_poster   Star Wars: The Force Awakens star_wars_poster Inside Out inside_out_poster Sicario sicario_poster Steve Jobs steve_jobs_poster The Big Short big_short_poster

Dishonorable Mention

Jurassic World: In a year with amazing female performances and characters (Furiosa in Mad Max, Brie Larson in Room, Melissa McCarthy in Spy, etc.) this movie seemed hopelessly out-of-date with it’s “women in peril” themes.

 

BarCamp Beijing: “Growth Hacker” presentation

I recently delivered an impromptu talk on “Growth Hacking”. Rather than speaking of specific, current tactics, I decided to give it a more long-term strategic views on how to approach product marketing from a “hacker’s” perspective. Rather than just talking about “viral loops”, I wanted to take a look at a broader perspective of how to take advantage of dominant distribution channels and to use them in under-utilized or unintended ways to grow your own product. I’m not a growth hacking expert (see the experts who I link to at the end of the presentation, but I think it’s relevant to everyone who is launching a new product whether online or not.

BarCamp Beijing: Growth Hacker

Launch of alive.cn

It’s been a fast three months since we first came across the idea of launching a new addition to our company. To tell the truth, while we’re going to keep alivenotdead.com up-and-running, the launch of alive.cn means that we’re transitioning the company to a slightly new model. I say “slightly” because, in reality, it’s an expansion of something that we were doing already with alivenotdead.com — helping connect brands with celebrities to do endorsements, events, etc.

The big change for me, however, is that it also means that my alivenotdead team mates Raffi and Patrick will be spending a majority of their time in Beijing with me and that we will be adding on a handful of new teammates as well.

Check out the new site and I hope to bring more good news soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday October 3, 2005

Rotten Tomatoes Senior Web Engineer

Rotten Tomatoes (http://www.rottentomatoes.com), the leading movie reviews and previews destination, is seeking an energetic, organized, and self-starting web engineer to help lead our engineering and technology efforts for the next several years. We’ve spent the last five years building amazing technology, content management systems, and community tools. However, our Chief Technology Officer has moved on to more managerial responsibilities, so we’re looking for a team player to work with our engineering team to help craft our future engineer efforts and feature additions.

We are a small company (10 employees) with flexible hours and a friendly small company environment. At the same time, as a part of IGN Entertainment and News Corp., you’ll have big company career development opportunities and benefits.

Please submit a brief cover letter, a resume, and URLs and description of previous web development work (professional or self-initiated) to [email protected]

General Responsibilities:

   * Plan, develop, and test content management and data integration/implementation systems
   * Cooperate with engineers from other IGN divisions and external data companies to integrate external data/code
   * Cooperate with Rotten Tomatoes front-end engineers to integrate front-end code and designs
   * Complete assigned projects independently, on-schedule, and with reliable code

Qualifications:

   * Demonstrable self-initiated web-based projects using PHP, HTML, and SQL a BIG plus
   * Prior experience with content management systems a plus
   * Solid understanding of web development & production processes, including requirements gathering, design, development tools and technologies, QA and deployment
   * Demonstrable experience to successfully work and code independently AND within an team
   * Demonstrable experience implementing code in a LAMP environment (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) a BIG plus.
   * Being a movie and/or video game fanatic is a BIG plus

Requirements & Education

   * 4-year bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience (CS/EE a plus)
   * Demonstrable experience with PHP, HTML, and MySQL a must
   * A minimum of four years in web development in a LAMP environment (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP)

IGN (Rotten Tomatoes) respects, values and welcomes diversity in our workforce, as well as in the IGN community. Our policy is to comply with all applicable laws and to provide equal employment opportunity for all applicants and employees without regard to non-job-related factors such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, veteran status, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity. This policy applies to all areas of employment, including recruitment, hiring, training, promotion, compensation, benefits, and social and recreational programs.

We will make reasonable accommodations for qualified applicants and/or employees with known physical and/or mental limitations, unless undue hardship would result, consistent with applicable laws.

Saturday March 5, 2005

That’s right! It’s the first in a series of free screenings that we’re going to be conducting nationwide and I really need YOUR help to make our efforts succeed. We really want to fill every theater to MAXIMUM CAPACITY so I want you to send the link above to all of your friends and, of course, RSVP yourself for the free screening. I’m REALLY excited about our first outing and I hope you guys can help us out.

We’re having screenings in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco (we’ll make it a big Rotten Tomatoes party event!), Dallas, Chicago, and Boston. Oh, did I mention that we’re giving away an Ipod shuffle at EVERY screening and that one special person will win a new Sony PSP? Even more reason to get your butt to a screening.

So email, post to Friendster, Xanga, your blogs, tell your friends, chalk a sidewalk… whatever…

Here’s more information about how to RSVP!

Friday October 8, 2004

Hey guys, as you probably know, IGN acquiried Rotten Tomatoes several months back and now we really need help in our ad operations unit. There are a bunch of open positions that need filling so if you have interest in the positions below, please go to Monster.com and apply and also let me know. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me. Thanks!

All three are based in IGN’s Brisbane office (which I visit at least twice a week), are full-time, and require a Bachelor’s degree.

Online Advertising Campaign Project Manager (Keyword 24417907)
Summary
The Campaign Project Manager is responsible for implementing, maintaining, and enhancing complex online advertising campaigns. This position involves sales and client support, campaign project management, execution and reporting.
Responsibilities
• Provision, Track, measure, and analyze the performance of multiple campaigns. This includes updating and maintaining detailed client campaign reports on a weekly and monthly basis
• Perform quality assurance/quality control checks on client campaigns to ensure that all client and sales objectives are being met
• Act as client contact for any campaign performance questions and other issues as needed
Qualifications/Requirements
• Meticulous attention to detail is required, including understand and reporting on advertising data and the code of complicated HTML and Flash advertising units.
• BA/BS or equivalent experience in Internet Advertising, Client Services, or Project Management.
• Experienced in project management required.
• Excellent client service, organizational abilities, and verbal and written communication skills.
• Experience with HTML, Macromedia Flash, Javascript preferred.
• Experience with one or more Internet ad management or targeted marketing applications (e.g., DoubleClick DART, DART Enterprise 5.1, DoubleClick AdServer 4.0, 24/7 Real Media, OpenAdStream, DARTmail, UnitMail, DoubleClick Sweepstakes) preferred.
• Ability to work independently, multi-task and thrive in a fast-paced environment
• Enthusiastic, high energy and unafraid to “roll up your sleeves”
• Account management and customer service experience preferred
• Understanding of interactive media advertising and the Internet
• Strong analytical skills and attention to detail
• Proficient in MS Excel, Power Point & Word


Technical Producer, Ad/Sales Operations (Keyword 23801539)
Summary
The Technical Producer’s role is to support Sales Operations with quality and technical solutions to advertising creative, delivery, and other issues. The technical producer is responsible for triage of quality issues in ad production and campaign execution, including root cause analysis and resolution. The Technical Producer serves as a liaison between Trafficking and Creative development function and Engineering and Production teams internal to Entertainment and to external vendors. Technical Producer plays a key role in determining standards for QA processes of all ad product and ad delivery formats.

Specific Duties and Requirements
• Analyze and solve daily service, delivery, and technical issues.
• Planning and implementation of Advertising Operations QA policies and procedures. Work closely with Engineering and Production teams to implement.
• Create and standardize testing suites and approval processes for internal and external technologies and ad serving/software solutions.
• Analyze, develop, and coordinate new technology to enhance and improve advertising product offerings.
• Define and document Ad Operations quality processes; develop new processes to increase efficiency and effectiveness.
• Lead improvements for QA and ad product technical enhancements. Manage projects and test plans as necessary.
• Work directly with Sales, Project Managers, Engineering and Management to plan and implement new products and changes in technology.
• Support technical implementation of ad products and custom units; work closely with Project Manger and Creative Services to receive assets.
• Work with 3rd party vendors to ensure all products work technically on the sites and services.
• Manage Ad Server environment as necessary.
• Specify naming conventions and standards for all technical aspects of ad delivery.

Required Experience and Skills
• BA/BS or equivalent experience in Internet industry, Internet advertising, project management, or technical production environment.
• 3+ years experience in Internet industry; ad operations and/or technical experience.
• Familiar with online advertising, marketing, and sales concepts and metrics.
• Excellent verbal and written communication skills with internal and external teams.
• Intermediate level knowledge of HTML, DHTML, JavaScript, Macromedia Flash, Internet file formats, streaming video formats and web coding concepts. Advance knowledge is a plus.
• Experience with one or more Internet ad management or targeted marketing applications (e.g., DoubleClick DART, DART Enterprise 5.1, DoubleClick AdServer 4.0, 24/7 Real Media, OpenAdStream, DARTmail, UnitMail, Solbright, DoubleClick Sweepstakes) required. Multiple applications experience preferred.
• Rich Media Technology experience preferred (e.g. Eyeblaster, Unicast, Enlive, Shoshkeles)
• Must be detail-oriented, have excellent organizational skills, and be expected to manage and report on multiple projects.

Online Advertising Web Designer (Keyword 24417959)
Summary:
The Online Advertising Web Designer will work with the Ad Operations and Media Sales teams to create concepts, execute designs and maintain design quality through production. This person will create compelling ads specific to the IGN Entertainment audience.

Responsibilities:
WEB DESIGN:
• Visual Design, User Interface Design, Website Development, Website Production, Image Optimization
• Develop strong concepts based on client needs and design experience

ANIMATION AND INTERACTIVE MEDIA SKILLS:
• Create dynamic, interactive content in Flash MX / Flash MX 2004
• Create and develop Flash ads, animate sequences, create custom presentations
• Flash/ActionScript analysis and troubleshooting
• Analyze, edit, and troubleshoot existing Flash/ActionScript files
• Push the envelope with Flash technology

HI-TECH DESIGN:
• Integrate video into Flash ads
• Create countdown ads that using real-time ActionScript code
• Use ActionScript to develop and create new rich media ad products

Qualifications/Requirements:
• Bachelor degree in marketing, advertising or graphic design is a plus or a combination of education and work experience providing equivalent knowledge.
• Expert knowledge of Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, ImageReady, font management, and FTP applications
• Proficient with ActionScript and video processing software for use in Flash ads
• Working knowledge of Javascript, HTML, XML
• Knowledge and troubleshooting skills related to multi-platform cross-browser compatibility issues
• Team player with excellent written/oral skills, multi-task oriented Ability to work effectively with short deadlines and evolving requirements
• Ability to interact with various business units and team members in a demanding, fast-paced work environment
• Demonstrated ability to learn new industry, company, product and technical knowledge
• Ability to manage multiple projects
• Ability to design at a fast pace

Wednesday July 9, 2003

Rotten Tomatoes Project: Quizlets

Schedule: NOW to September

Rotten Tomatoes is seeking talented, literate, and sassy writers for a new project that we’re implementing for a client. We are seeking freelance writers who can write mini-quizzes (or “quizlets”) that will be launched online in a big way in mid-August.

The quizlets cover personality, relationships and dating, pop culture, humor, career, and gay/lesbian topics, with a range of 10-25 questions, 5-10 results for each. Different age groups will be targeted, with the main audience being the college-age crowd. We’re looking for people who can write with humor and provocative attitude, along the lines of Cosmo or Maxim. Attitude is key here — we want content that really grabs the reader’s attention.

Our project calls for the incremental release of 120 quizlets total over a period of three months. As a consequence, we’re hoping to find around a dozen or more writers who can provide at least 10 quizlets each (although more than 10 will also be accepted). We will be paying $75 for each quizlet which is published.

If you’re interested in contributing, please let us know approximately how many per week you’d be able to do and how soon you can start and e-mail Susan Nakasora at [email protected] with the following info:

Name
E-mail address
Instant Messenger information
Phone Number
Fax Number or Mailing Address

We will then send e-mail you a package of instructions and writing samples of previous quizlets. You must be able to edit a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet (the format in which the quizlet template is written) and be able to e-mail you quizlets to us. Finally, please note that because this is work for a client, any quizlets which are finally published will be the sole property of our client (i.e. you will not be able to republish them elsewhere).

Feel free to contact me or Susan if you have any further questions. Thanks!

Sunday May 18, 2003

Woohoo! New laptop… A sub-5 lbs. Fujitsu S6000 with a Centrino design. I was hoping the battery life would be better — looks like it lasts around 3hrs. when I’m using Wi-Fi. Nonetheless, I’m really happy with it so far and it’s definitely an improvement over my old Dell laptop which I lovingly call “The Brick” because it’s so heavy.

I’m somewhat relieved that I was able to get through this week without our servers self-destructing from the heavy Matrix Reloaded-related traffic. We even got Slashdotted and our servers seemed fine. Woohoo! Unfortunately, our traffic statistics server died a month ago so I’ve been unable to calculate our increasing page views and unique visitors.

It’s been a nice relaxing weekend… I worked really late on Friday night (past midnight) because I spent so much time setting up my new laptop that I had a pile of things to do (like fixing the statistics server) afterwards. But it’s worth it. I was able to be relatively work-free today. Woke up and visited the Santa Clara Farmer’s Market on a beautifully sunny morning. We had French crepes and bought fresh flowers and strawberries. After we got back, I watched Grosse Pointe Blank on cable while doing some more work on my laptop Later, I went to wushu at Wushu Central then took a refreshing nap afterwards. Finally, Jen and I went to Palace BBQ for Korean BBQ buffet. Let me say that again: KOREAN BBQ BUFFET. THe three sweetest words in the English language. Yum.

BTW, the more I think about it, the more I appreciate The Matrix Reloaded. I know that the critical views on it a pretty divided, but I just appreciate a movie that has me talking and thinking about it days after seeing it. I’ve spent at least two hours reading various forum postings on RT and Slashdot about theories. And I disliked Mulholland Drive…

Sunday May 11, 2003

Heh! I know it’s still early, but The Matrix Reloaded is now sitting at 57% Rotten on the Tomatometer. I suspect that this movie might turn out like Star Wars: Episode 2 where it teeter-tottered between fresh and rotten about ten times before finally settling in slightly fresh territory. We got alot of hate mail on that one with people accusing us of “purposefully” ratcheting up the suspense for traffic but I swear that we didn’t do a single thing out of the ordinary when compiling the reviews.

If Matrix Reloaded ultimate sits in rotten territory, the peasants are going to be coming to our offices with pitchforks. We’ll see….