Dennis Spielman

The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

Tag: End of Year Reflection

Talimena National Scenic Byway - photo by Dennis Spielman

Reflecting on 2018

Hello, Adventurers!

It’s New Year’s Eve, which means it’s time to work on my end of year reflections. As customary, here’s some numbers of what I’ve accomplished in 2018.

Weekly Videos for Uncovering Oklahoma: 55
Artist Statement Minutes: 20
Yes! Science! Videos: 7
Tales Unveiled episodes: 10

-Uncovering Oklahoma in 2018-

Since Uncovering Oklahoma was my biggest project of the year, I’m going to discuss how that went first. I’m to start by sharing the top ten most viewed videos on both Facebook and YouTube. This list only includes videos that where made in 2018. Videos that I made a previous year that were still watched this year, I kicked them off.

Top 10 Most Watched via Facebook in 2018
10. CHAOS (2K)
9. Colorful Escapes in Norman (2.3k)
8. The Miller Grill (2.4k)
7. Kwan’s Kitchen (2.9k)
6. Gathering Place (3k)
5. The Ruins Bar & Grille and The Sanctuary Escape (3k)
4. Factory Obscura’s Beyond (4.5k)
3. Red Rock Canyon State Park (7.8k)
2. A Day in Bartlesville (19.7k)
1. Gogi Go (19.7k)

Top 10 Most-Viewed via YouTube in 2018
10. CHAOS (264)
9. Vacca Territory (273)
8. Kwan’s Kitchen (324)
7. Jimmy’s Round Up Cafe (334)
6. Illuminations (367)
5. Factory Obscura’s Beyond (378)
4. HunnyBuddy Biscuit Co (399)
3. Gathering Place (522)
2. Gogi Go (871)
1. Oklahoma State Fair Food of 2018 (3,290)

It’s always interesting to see how different these two lists are from each other. The thing to keep in mind is that I use the YouTube videos for the website and I directly upload a copy to Facebook, which is where most people tend to watch my videos. Note that on the Facebook videos, the number next to them is not a view count, but minutes watched!

Growth for Uncovering Oklahoma has been great! At the time I’m writing this post, likes for Facebook was 13,130 (was 10,571 at the start of the year), Twitter was 3,549 (2,959 last year), and Instagram was 1,426 (new account this year). While my video views are way up compared to last year, the site visits were down 15% overall. There are two reasons I believe: more people were reading/watching via social media and I had a viral story last year.

I got to make some great collaboration videos like my Norman Music Festival interviews, A Day in Bartlesville, Film Row Pub Crawl, and Gathering Place. I traveled more outside the Oklahoma City area for stories, including Yukon, Tulsa, and Bartlesville. Lately, I’ve felt like there’s too much going on for me to uncover, which is a good problem.

-Yes! Science! in 2018-

In its second year, Yes! Science! did better, both in performance and video quality. I have exciting new plans for season three.

-Tales Unveiled in 2018-

One of my new projects for the year was my first podcast series, Tales Unveiled. Jeff Provine and I did ten episodes sharing Oklahoma’s spooky ghost stories. Unlike typical interview podcasts, Jeff and I took on fictional personas and did the series as a docudrama. Because of the show’s format, it would take about three or four days to make one episode. The extra work was worth it as the show has had great reviews.

Jeff and I do have plans to record a second season in the summer.

-Quarter Minutes in 2018-

There wasn’t any. I atempted, but just didn’t make Quarter Minutes happen. I was more focused on making other projects happen. However, I have scheduled January 5th to film a few Quarter Minutes at Factory Obscura! I’m excited to get this show back on track.

-Books in 2018-

Another failure for this year was the lack of finished books. I did “finish” Intertwined by Cracks, however, I felt the story needed more. I was driving one day a few months ago when I had a stoke of inspiration of a way to give the book a few more chapters, which I’m currently writing out. If you’re wondering what the book is about, here’s my current description:

“Despite Lindsey Way’s early life being a total mystery to herself, she’s adapted to life on Earth as a Realm Walker rather well in her opinion. She has a job as a travel writer allowing her to use her gift of making a door lead to another door and she even has a loving boyfriend, Tommy, whom she hasn’t yet shared her secret with yet. When purple cracks appear during a date night, leaking monsters from other planets into theirs, Lindsey is forced to share her secret. The couple becomes intertwined with people connected to the cracks and discover a sinister plot to harness Lindsey powers by a stranded time traveler.”

I’ve also been working on a sequel to The Crashing of Heaven and Hell and a third book which is a continuation of Intertwined by Cracks, but follows Tommy’s sister instead.

-Top Songs of 2018-

These were my most played songs in 2018 according to Spotify, which is how I mostly listen to music. I enjoy sharing what I listened to this past year. It’s fun to look back. Nothing this year matched anything from last year. Keep in mind I will often put a song (or playlist) on repeat when writing or for inspiration sessions.

-The Show Starts Now Studios in 2018-

On June 4, 2018, I revealed The Show Starts Now Studios. It’s my new parent company for all of my shows. My goal with this venture is to open a live TV audience studio producing live streaming shows every day. I’m years away from that happening, but I’m making progress. The first phase involved aligning all of my current shows under this new banner and plan for the next phase, which is about producing new shows.

-Now For 2019-

Before writing this blog post, I looked back at past end of the year reflections to compare myself. There were a few things that I wrote last year that I had planned to accomplish in 2018, but didn’t, such as new books, a national travel show, and a public art instillation. However, I did new things that I hadn’t planned like a podcast and a new feature documentary.

My main ambition for 2019 is to start producing new live streaming shows while being memorable. I still have these moments where I feel like both what I’m doing and me personally is forgettable. It’s an on-going struggle to improve, trying to learn what works and what doesn’t, how to balance work/life, and figuring out/decdiing what needs to be done. I’m reminded of a motivation quote that went along the lines of, “Don’t expect your friends to support you – make something worthy of their support.”

I have several new shows planned for 2019! As you know, I’m quiet on what I’m working on until it’s about done, but fuck that, I’m sharing some of the new projects I’m planning to get feedback/advice now.

  • A monthly music show in collaboration with Norman Music Festival where performers answer questions from the host and audience and then perform a few acoustic songs.
  • A monthly panel series that shares advice on various topics for creative professionals.
  • Season Three of Yes! Science! will be done as a live talk show! Plus, an overview Yes Women in Science mini-documentary for (hopefully) the deadCenter Film Festival.
  • New 30-minute documentary special on the Plaza Walls project with a big fundraising premiere on Monday, April 15th, the ten-year anniversary of Uncovering Oklahoma.
  • A political satire series focusing on Oklahoma state politics that’s a mix of Weekend Update and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Ideally, it would have a weekly run for a month or two in the fall. Big ambitions and challenges for this show hence a fall release.

I do have a few more shows planned that I will be filming where others will be taking charge. I feel like I’ve been doing so much planning and talking, but not enough action. I’ll just say that everything is building up and it’s all about to burst.

I want to thank you for following me and I hope you continue in the new year!

Caterpillar photo by Dennis Spielman

Reflecting on 2017

Hello, everyone!

It’s now time for my annual End of the Year Reflection. Last year, 2016, was a big year for me. I wrote last year “was, by far, my most productive year.” In 2017, I stepped my game. Before I get into details, here are some numbers covering what I made.

Weekly Videos for Uncovering Oklahoma: 45
Artist Statement Minutes: 19
Music Videos: 1
Feature Films: 2 (Norman Music Festival and Inviting Art)
Quarter Minutes: 9
Yes! Science! Videos: 6

-Uncovering Oklahoma in 2017-
I’m going to review Uncovering Oklahoma first, but starting off with some stats. Keep in mind the for weekly videos, sometimes I would feature multiple places, such as when I did my Coffee of Norman episode. Some of my weekly videos focused on an event rather than a place, which I made more of this year because I had footage from 2016 to do that sort of thing.

Top 5 Most Viewed Uncovering Oklahoma Videos Made in 2017 on YouTube:
5. McClintock Saloon & Chop House [509 views]
4. Intro to The Food of Lindsey Street [860 views]
3. The Underground [2,046 views]
2. Poe Bouyz House – Sneak Peek Tour with Uncovering Oklahoma [8,229 views]
1. Beck’s Garage: Tuning up and Servicing Oklahoma City | #AmexAmbassador [36,180 views]

At this time, no other video of mine has more views than my Beck’s Garage video. The reason it’s so high is that the marketing company did a paid boost on it. The Poe Bouyz House Sneak Peek Tour video was something that went viral because so many people were curious about what that weird looking building on the highway was going to be. Back in 2009, the very first video I did for Uncovering Oklahoma was about the Underground, which I revisited this year to include as part of my series I was doing about art galleries and for Inviting Art. Downtown OKC was impressed enough with my video on The Underground that they embedded it on their site, which for me, is one of the highest praises.

Now, to mess up those numbers, here’s what was popular on Facebook because this year I started also uploading them directly to my page.

Top 5 Most Viewed on Facebook:
5. An Afternoon in Davis [5.6K]
4. Off The Hook Seafood and More [13.6K]
3. Oklahoma State Fair Food of 2017 [14.8K]
2. Davis Road Trip [17.8K]
1. Poe Bouyz House Sneak Peek Tour [407.3K]

Having the videos on Facebook did affect my YouTube views, however, they were getting watched and that’s what’s important.

The popularity of Uncovering Oklahoma has grown like crazy. On January 2, 2017, the Facebook page likes was at 1,969 and on December 31, 2017, it’s at 10,571! I can attribute a good chunk of that to my Poe Bouyz House coverage. As for Twitter followers, I can’t find out what I started with, but I’m ending the year with 2,959. Over at Uncovering Oklahoma, I wrote a recap there, which includes my top ten pages and videos.

-Books in 2017-
One thing I didn’t do this year – which I also didn’t do last year – was publish any books. Not for the lack of trying. Intertwined by Cracks has been going back-and-forth on the editing process. Granted, the book has been getting better and better with each revision my editor has sent back. I’ve also been working on a sequel to The Crashing of Heaven and Hell, which has an intertwined chapter with Intertwined by Cracks.

-Quarter Minutes in 2017-
This year, I didn’t do as many stories for Quarter Minutes, but on average, they were longer this time around. I’m a little bummed that they didn’t get many views because I felt we did a great job on them. Something for me to work on for next year. Shout out to Daniel Austin, Pallas, Robyn Wheelock, Michael Roberts, Finley, Justan, and Kristy K. Boone for their work this season!

-Yes! Science! in 2017-
Yes! Science! is my new series I started this year. The show had a rocky start, which involved some technical errors. I didn’t debut the series until October 3. However, it was well received! I took a mid-season break from it because it was getting harder to schedule interviews with the holidays and their end of the year project/research wrap-ups.

-Travel Adventures in 2017-
The other new thing I started doing was more personal travel videos, which would have me in it or not be related to Oklahoma. I figured, I had a personal channel on YouTube, which I wasn’t using, so I decided to do something with it. The most popular video I made this year on it was about the Oklahoma State Fair Foods of 2017.

Leslie and I didn’t travel out of state until December when we went to Seattle to visit her sister and then to see my parents in Georgia for Christmas. Our schedules and budgets didn’t allow for much travel.

Spotify 2017 Wrapped
-My Top 18 Most Played Songs in 2017-
These were my most played songs in 2017 according to Spotify, which is how I mostly listen to music. I enjoy sharing what I listened to this year. It’s fun to look back. Nothing from my top 15 this year matched anything from my top 15 of last year. Keep in mind I will often put a song (or playlist) on repeat when writing or for inspiration sessions.

Top 18 Songs Played in 2017

-Now for 2018-
Before I talk about 2018, I feel it’s important to talk about my failures of the year. Despite my growth, I can’t help but feel somewhat forgettable. I’m still figuring out what people are and aren’t interested in watching. Basically, what works and what doesn’t work. More than once I’ve had to tell myself not to compare myself to others – only compare yourself with yourself. I’ve also had some weight gain as I do most of my work in front of a computer. I’m at 220 pounds today and I’ve set a goal to lose weight in 2018.

As a business, I am not financially stable or profitable. I did sponsorships to make three videos: The Food of Lindsey Street, Inviting Art, and Beck’s Garage for American Express. I also did several freelance video projects. However, I had equipment and medical expenses eat up everything. While I am grateful for the paid work, it takes time. Time to court people. Time to work out deals. Time to get paid (for example, on Inviting Art, I was paid half up front and the other half upon completion, six months later). I’m working on building up patron support so I can focus more on making things.

It seemed like overall in 2017, I was doing a lot of learning and getting a grip on everything, which some people may say that’s what every year is like. In the month of October, I had released at least three videos a week – one from each of my shows. I am so proud of that turnout. I’ve had people tell me that they live through me and my adventures. I’ve had tons of people that described themselves to me as “not being good on camera” later tell me how good my video on them turned out. In other positive growth, I’ve done collaborative videos with other professionals, such as in my Davis, Uptown 23rd, and A Solo Day in OKC videos. I plan to do even more collaborations next year. I did get PAID to make videos this year, which is a first.

When I compare the me of today to the me of last year, I’ve progressed.

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned this year is that I can’t do everything by myself, but I can get things started by myself. Collaboration is going to be key for 2018. I just need to keep things rolling.

Now, I’m not keen on talking about future projects when they are in the pre-production stages hence why I’m going to be a little vague below.

I plan to release a new book from my 16th Phoenix Universe series of stories. As I mentioned before, Intertwined by Cracks is in the editing phase. Collecting Cassie’s Soul, which is the sequel I mentioned, I’m still writing it out, but it’s been fun to write. It’s told from the first person perspective and although it is a sequel, I’ve been writing it so that it stands on its own. I’ve also written a little on a third book.

Of course, I will continue making videos for Quarter Minutes and Yes! Science! The Quarter Minutes group had some great ideas we just didn’t get to film. In January, I’m going follow up with those who requested I check back then to be interviewed then for Yes! Science! Scheduling and juggling all of my shows has been a challenge.

I would like to attempt to do a non-documentary feature film this year. I have a few ideas I’m bouncing around, but nothing solid yet. As of I’m writing this post, I’m leaning toward a horror film.

For Uncovering Oklahoma in 2018, I plan to do behind-the-scenes kind of videos to show sides of places the public doesn’t get to see. Heidi and I plan to go more small towns and do similar videos to our Davis ones. On the subject of collaboration, that’s one of my key elements for 2018. I plan to do another pub crawl video and A Solo Day in OKC Summer Edition. If funding allows it, I plan to do more coverage outside of the Oklahoma City Metro.

I have an idea for a public art installation. I’ve been inspired by all of the artists I’ve interviewed. I’ve had the idea for some time now, but I’m just now making time to figure out how to build it because it will be an undertaking. Few people know what it is because I’m keeping it quiet until I’m sure I can actually build it. As Jack Fowler advised in an interview I did with, “you just got to do it.”

On the subject of ambitious, I have three words to share: National Travel Show. My goal is to film the pilot episode in the first quarter of the year. This has been something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

In 2016, I thought it would be fun to do a show involving a live studio audience. In 2017, I started trying to figure what that entails and how to make it happen. In 2018, I take steps to make it happen!

That’s it for my yearly reflection. I got a little personal this time, talked more than normal, and I’ve shared some rather lofty goals. Again, I’m sorry if for my vagueness on the future as I things can change at this point. In January, I’m going to be meeting with people to make things happen.

I want to thank you for your support and I hope you continue to adventure with me in 2018!

Have a Happy New Year!

Reflecting on 2016

Time for my annual End of the Year Reflection. Warning: If you don’t want to read someone saying nice things about 2016, don’t read further. 😉

This year was, by far, my most productive year.

My personal growth was fantastic. It’s kind of a funny too. When writing this post, I looked back on my past yearly reflections and in My Review of 2014 I felt good about making five videos throughout that whole year and now, in 2016, I made that much in one month! Crazy.

Let’s crunch some numbers on what I’ve made!

Episode Videos for Uncovering Oklahoma: 30
Total Subjects featured for Episode Videos: Over 60
Artist Statement Minutes: 13
Feature Films: 2 (District Up! and Summer Fun Vol. 1)
Short Films: 3 (not counting Quarter Minutes)
Quarter Minutes: 10
Film Festivals: 4

The one thing I didn’t do was publish any new books this year, however, there were hours of videos.

As for personal adventures this year, my wife and I took our first cruise, starting in Tampa, Florida then visiting the Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico. We also took a road trip from Oklahoma to Georgia to visit my family for Christmas. Visited a bunch of sights in Oklahoma, of course.

Top 5 Most Viewed Uncovering Oklahoma Videos
5. Half a Day with the Halfrican American
4. Heard on Hurd and iFly
3. The Happily Entitled – Friction [Music Video]
2. Uncovering Oklahoma visits The Escape OKC
1. Guthrie Haunts Scaregrounds

My Favorite Accomplishments
My favorite accomplishment this year, no questions, was my feature-length documentary, District Up. I spent over a year making it. I grew in ways that have elevated my skills and defined my style as a filmmaker.

The first video I did for Uncovering Oklahoma this year was about the Norman Music Festival. I wrote here my journey of having shot a totally different interview, but I scrapped it to go into a different direction, which, to this day, I’m so glad I did.

My videos on the Paseo Arts District, Half a Day with the Halfrican American, and Downtown in December were also some of my best travel videos.

I made a music video, Friction by The Happily Entitled, this year! And it was awesome. The band later did a remix music video, which you can watch here, and they did a callback to my music video with them, which I thought was really sweet. (The scene I’m referred to was how the lead singer was wrapped in the blanket.) I would love to do more music videos next year.

I participated in the 48 Hour Film Project for the first this year, making the short film, Guilt Trip. While it didn’t win any awards, we all had a blast and I made new friends.

I started a horror/comedy short film series, Quarter Minutes, working with people from our 48 Hour Project and those who wished they could’ve joined. Quarter Minutes pierces through the multiverse to capture 15-second glimpses of strange and seemly normal oddities of multiple realities. We managed to make 10 stories this year and plan to more next year.

There were some videos I felt “meh” about, but on those, I still learned things. You learn best from doing.

My Top 17 Most Played Songs in 2016
These were my most played songs in 2016 according to Spotify. Keep in mind I will often put a song on repeat when writing or being creative for inspiration.

Top 17 Songs in 2016

As for 2017.

As usual, I’m not one for talking about future projects here until they’re close to being ready, especially when they’re in the early planning stages. I’ve been meeting with friends and professional colleagues to discuss plans for 2017. I have ideas for some new shows. For one of the shows, I think it would be neat to have a studio audience because there’s nothing like that in Oklahoma.

I will release a new book from the 16th Phoenix Universe of Stories! Maybe two. Maybe three.

I am writing scripts for a fictional mini-series.

I am researching subjects for possible feature-length documentaries.

New videos will continue with Uncovering Oklahoma. I am working on stepping up my game.

Anyway, that’s a sneak peek of what I have planned for 2017.

I have accomplished more this year than I have my whole life and I must give thanks to my wonderful and supportive wife, Leslie, who helped made everything possible! I’m excited for what will happen next year.

Reflecting on 2015

Time for my end of the year post! While I didn’t accomplish all of my goals, 2015 has been a year of new beginnings and big changes. The biggest and best change: I got married!

What did I accomplish this year? I released the new and final date idea book, did two public speaking events, interviewed Billy Sims, got a new 4K camera, did a Mafia-inspired interview in the trunk of my car, video with Escape OKC, got married, started sharing more of my photography, started work on a feature length documentary, went house hunting, and started a new weekly web show! And those are just the major things I’ve done, not counting all of the interviews and articles I’ve written for Uncovering Oklahoma and my travels.

As for 2016.

The number 16 is one of my lucky numbers, as I born on the 16th of April.

My wife and I are moving to a new house next week. That’s a big change right there. I’m going to be working on improving my organization and focus, which this move will help.

I’m gunning to get my documentary film done in time for submission to the deadCENTER Film Festival. I know I haven’t shared anything about it here, but that’s because it’s such a work in progress and I would rather spend time working on it than hyping it. I’ll hype it later when it’s done and I’m waiting for it to premiere.

All the books and stories!

I’m looking forward to what I have planned for my weekly show, which this project wasn’t something I hadn’t even thought of doing, so who knows what I’ll end up doing in 2016.

I feel great about the future.

Review of My 2014

What a year 2014 has been.

This was the year I started to turn Uncovering Oklahoma around. This was the year I’ve gone from making a few updates a month to a few updates a week, writing over 100 posts for my travel blog. This was the year I got the most traffic. This was the year things started to fall into place and look up.

This was a good year.

Let’s recap.

2014-06-12 Film Row-04 Leslie and Dennis holding Press Passes

In late January I released Uncovering Oklahoma’s 2014 Date Idea Book. The book wasn’t the overnight success I dreamed it would be, but I’ll talk more about that later.

I had written article early in the year of a list of 14 Things I want to do in Oklahoma in 2014, which was rather popular. Sadly, I only managed to do three of the items on my list: Air Donkey Zipline Adventures, a painting class, and watch at movie at the deadCENTER Film Festival. However, all three were a blast!

How did I fair this year in video interviews? I made five: Starbase Studios, Take 9 Variety Show, Rough Cut at deadCENTER, Air Donkey Zipline Adventures, and HeyDay Entertainment. If I have to pick a favorite, I would go for Air Donkey because of the action and flow. Though, the one on Take 9 had a fast pace and visiting both Starbase Studios and HeyDay were fun. Overall: I’m happy with what I’ve made.

This year was the fifth year I’ve been doing Uncovering Oklahoma. I celebrated by releasing a free book about some of my Experiences of Uncovering Oklahoma. The pdf book contained a journal about the first day, my interview questions, history of the date idea book, some of my favorite photography, and questions I’ve been asked. The book was short, around 30 pages. Check the post about it here.

This year I started publishing local restaurant recommendations on Uncovering Oklahoma. (In the past, I only did video interviews and date ideas when it came to food.) The first one I did was Seven47 in Norman, which the post was more pictures than review until my second one I wrote on OMG! Fusion Restaurant in South OKC. Throughout the year I featured more and more places, landing me a spot in Urbanspoon’s Top 10 Oklahoma City Metro food bloggers. The most read food review (that wasn’t about H&8th) was on Hurts Donut Company, with the second and third being Ludivine and The Bleu Garten. One of my photos of Glacier Confection, a chocolate shop in Tulsa, was featured in the Diner Photos of the Week. As a top contributor to Urbanspoon, I received some cool swag that included a t-shirt, sticker, and bottle opener.

Dennis in Urbanspoon shirt

It’s been a great year for my question and answer interviews too. My Tuesday Treats that I started last year are still going strong. I experimented with an artist exhibit interview that went well, which I will do more of in 2015.

Uncovering Oklahoma has become increasingly influential. A person I met at a charity event who was friends with a restaurant I featured, had told me the place had seen a spike in traffic because of my recommendation. I can’t tell you how much that comment made my day and made me feel like the new direction I was heading with the site was working. I’ve been invited to several events throughout the year, including deadCENTER, a murder mystery party, and a Foodie Foot Tour.

I made a few videos for work, all of which have won awards and prize money ($50 per each of the two videos). I can add Contest Winning Videographer to my title now.

I had two major travel trips this year. The first was to Eureka Springs and the second was to Atlanta. I never went to down Texas this year, which is a bit odd, but I went other places instead.

As you can tell, Uncovering Oklahoma has been my major focus this year and my creative projects have taken a hit – no – my creative projects have been set aside to be refined and developed more. Yeah! That’s it!

Now, for 2015.

There will be a revised edition of the 2014 Date Idea Book for 2015. The revised edition will drop the year from the title and will only contain corrections and minor updates. I’ve given the date idea book series some deep thought and decided to go in a different direction. I’m working on a new book full of adventures and activities to appear to broader audience. The revised date book will be out soonish. I just need to sit down and do it. The brand new adventure book will come later in the first quarter. I also I have an idea for another Oklahoma themed book, but it’s only an idea at this point.

More books! I have an urban fantasy that is getting close to being done.

I will be offering new services on Uncovering Oklahoma, including video production and public speaking. So far next year, I will be speaking twice about Uncovering Oklahoma at the Norman Public Library. I’ll set up a page about my full range of services soon.

The big goal for 2015 is to quit my day job and become a full time writer. Believe it or not, but I manage Uncovering Oklahoma while working over 44 hours a week. Imagine all the stories I’ll create with more time. It’s going to be spectacular! I can’t wait! First, I have to get everything situated to pull this feat off. If all goes well, I should be a full time writer in the first half of the year (perhaps even the first quarter). If you want to help, please refer people to here, Uncovering Oklahoma or one of my books, follow me on social media, and keep visiting!

Here’s to an even better 2015!

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