A Very Honest Post.

Powered By Cats was officially formed in the summer of 2010 after five years of working staff and permalance post-production jobs. Powered By Cats has pretty much always been just me, Brett, but it’s a memorable name with an eye-catching logo. Originally created to host my commercial reel and archive of narrative short films edited during and after my time at NYU film school, the intent was to help me get freelance editing jobs – to look more legit to commercial agencies and production companies – two types of employers I never thought I would seek.

I went to film school at NYU because I wanted to make narrative feature films. I loved telling stories, throwing my heart up on the screen and hoping it resonated with my audience. While at NYU I found that even more than telling my own stories, I enjoyed, through editing, helping others tell their stories. I love the excitement of watching raw footage. There’s always a moment where the story starts to shape itself in my head. Then the real fun begins.

I took the first job I was offered after graduation. Desperation and fear carried me into the realm of advertising; insecurity and fear kept me there for the next three years.

After I left that job in the fall of 2008, I worked the night shift for almost a year and a half on reality television, then short advertising gigs here and there, followed by a 6-month job editing interviews about healthcare for an interactive video installation. Almost all those companies had great people and atmospheres. It was the counterbalance to the corporate product we were creating.

In my own time, or when unemployed, I would try to work on side projects – a music video, a narrative, and a dream project – promotional videos for a collective of non-profit organizations doing humanitarian work in Mali, West Africa.

This was the project I never knew I was craving to work on. Once I did, it made working in corporate media that much more heartbreaking and soul crushing. Regardless of how nice the people were, and how high a day rate I could get the company to agree to pay me, the projects just weren’t worthwhile.

In the summer and early fall of 2011 I began planning to leave NYC, after living here for 10 years. I needed to find a way to combine my skills in media with my passion for human rights work. I looked into grad schools in London and progressive media companies in San Francisco.

And then Occupy happened.

When I first starting engaging with Occupy Wall Street, on October 18th 2011, there was no shortage of media being produced by and about the occupation of Liberty Square and the growing worldwide movement. I was glad there was not a need there that I felt obligated to fill. I was working on and off over the next month and just didn’t have the energy for a media project, regardless of how incredible the content would have been. Plus it allowed me to focus on other areas within the community that had a more pressing need, namely, Facilitation.

Fast forward to May Day 2012. The day was a mixed bag of overhype, successful pickets, unfulfilled potential, underreported numbers at mass rallies and marches, and an over-reactionary paramilitary crackdown on a peaceful assembly. One of the biggest takeaways of the day was that under no circumstance could Occupy depend on the mass media to accurately represent us, let alone tell our story. My interest in media began to respark. Discussions of what a 24-hour Occupy television network might look like began, but have stalled due to the overwhelming time commitment just to figure out what steps would have to be taken to begin such an endeavor.

And now today. Two very close friends are just over one week into a six-week road trip around the perimeter of the United States. The Radical Resistance Tour will stop in nearly 20 cities to interview people – radicals, anti-capitalists, environmentalists, occupiers, homeowners, etc., who are fighting to improve their communities. While they are on the road, I am in NYC collecting their footage and editing web-episodes of each city. The first stop, in Coal River Valley, West Virginia, has resulted in a rough cut about 25 minutes long. The interviews with six folks fighting the coal industry and mountain top removal extraction procedures are incredible and inspiring. Future episodes will feature anti-Keystone XL Pipeline activists in Texas and South Dakota, police repression and violence protests in Anaheim, foreclosure defense in Minneapolis, and so much more.

This project is everything I have ever wanted to work on. It has the potential to be weeks, or months of work, and will hopefully result in nearly two-dozen episodes for the web. We are tentatively talking about a feature length documentary that could combine all the cities into one piece.

In November I worked an 11-day freelance job for Google. My last day of work was November 18th. My supervisors were sympathetic to my involvement in Occupy and didn’t mind when I emailed at 6am on November 15th to say I’d been up all night and wouldn’t be coming in, and gave me November 17th off with only a few hours notice before the end of the day on the 16th. Since November 18th, I have been employed one day. It was for an ad agency.

I’ve been able to sustain myself by deferring my student loans and giving up my apartment on December 16th 2011.

After spending a few weeks with Occupy, and made concrete on November 15th, I knew there was no going back. I knew I had to dedicate my time and my life to Occupy Wall Street, to the struggle for social and economic justice with the most incredible, diverse, complicated, and passionate community I had ever been a part of.

Over the last eight months I have benefited from, and depended on, the generosity of my friends, both new from OWS and longtime back as far back as NYU. I’ve slept on couches and floors, cat/dog/house sat for a few days or weeks at a time. I’ve gotten by on a modest savings. Not having to pay nearly $1800 a month on rent and student loans makes belt-tightening a whole lot easier.

But that savings is starting to run out and credit cards are not a sustainable option. My smartphone is an essential part of my lifestyle with activism. A Metrocard is a requirement for getting to housing, meetings, and actions. And now I’m trying to fulfill my dreams for what Powered By Cats has always wanted to be – a mobile video post-production company solely focused on supporting and furthering the work of people and organizations dedicated to social and economic justice in their communities.

With great humility and respect, I ask for your financial support. I ask that you help me do this work. Help me make Powered By Cats also powered by everyday people and not a dependency on corporate media. Every penny donated will be openly accounted for in a monthly financial report-back. No donation is too small or unappreciated.

I cannot wait to continue working on The Radical Resistance Tour and eagerly anticipate what other projects will manifest in the future. Please consider supporting independent media with a donation to Powered By Cats. I thank you in advance for your support.

In solidarity, with love and rage,

Brett


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