I sent a note to Mr Mitch Traphagen, concerning my last post about the video, "Being Out There":
If a person wants to do a hatchet job on someone else's product of blood sweat and tears, the least the critic can do is confront the artist directly. This is why I tested my review on the blog, before I put it out to the world.
While driving home for lunch, I thought of how I would feel if my video or blog was run through a snarky wringer, and I was the subject of a real slapping around.
While watching the video, I was thinking of the producers as trying to make a buck off of sailing and I was viewing through my own prism of experience.
Here is an email I sent to the Producer, Mitch;
I watched your video last night and you can see the review I made on my blog; http://maogwaicat.blogspot.com/
Since it is not the most glowing commentary, I will only alert you to it and will not place it on Amazon, as I threaten in the title. It's tough enough to lay your personal life out in the public.
Many people do indeed, dream of leaving it all behind. Few will actually work up the nerve to actually depart. After sailing for the previous eight years on weekends, we finally did it between Sept '99 through Sept '00, so the Spousal Unit and I know the pre cruise nervousness and the post cruise relief.
I say it in my blog that most of the glorious stuff any of us do while cruising is relegated to the log book, since we are living the moment and are too busy to document it visually. Very unfortunate because us cruising folks can be quite heroic during the six really bad days that you have on any sailboat cruise.
We have also swallowed the hook for the moment. Really bad when you get the house on shore. I am getting up the gumption to do the cruising thing again, which was why I purchased your video. I am hoping to inspire the wife to want to do it again. Right now, she wants to do the "Great Loop", which sounds like more of a pain due to more traffic and crowded marinas. But we will do it so that I can hope to cross some oceans at another time.
Good luck on your future cruising, and I hope your next video is a best seller.
All the best to you and yours!
I received a most rapid reply:
Hi DC -
Thanks for the note and the kind wishes - I appreciate it.
First and foremost, however, please let me know how much you paid for the video (include the shipping cost) and I'll get a check out to you. We meant it when we talked about leaving a clean wake.
Obviously, the video was made on a tight budget - and despite a few thousand copies sold it probably hasn't paid off yet. Fortunately, we didn't expect to make a living from it - the goal was just to show some stuff and provide some info for people who have never been.
Almost all of the emails we've received have been positive, so that has been nice. In total, we've been asked for four refunds (including the one I am offering you). The first was to a fairly well-known person who was preparing to cruise on his Deerfoot and the last thing he wanted to encounter were people like those shown in the video. He wanted to get away from people. He is a gentleman, though - and we've remained in touch. Another was for a bad DVD, the third was for reasons unknown (no questions asked).
That said, there is no way there will ever be another. The time and money spent simply can't be made up for a very small independent. Not to mention, it's a nasty business - even as small as we are. My view on it has been "the more the merrier" in terms of cruising videos - that there aren't enough. But that's definitely not how some colleagues (competitors) see it.
Simply put, on the limited $15K budget we squirreled away to make it, we can't do a Hollywood-level video. That, of course, should be obvious, but increasingly it seems as though a Hollywood production is what some expect. We absolutely can't meet those expectations. That makes me worry about the future of independents. On one hand, technology is now making it easier than ever - on the other, putting yourself out there with the best that you can do is becoming an invitation to slaughter.
Michelle and I are cruisers temporarily living in Iowa - nothing more. We just wanted to make a video that showed some of the stuff that we wondered about while we were dreaming about cruising. In all honesty, I'm losing my willingness to continue to put myself out there and have been seriously considering pulling the video from Amazon and other resellers. The reasons for that happening would not include your review - you appear to be honest in your assessment and you are very considerate - I appreciate it. But others aren't so upstanding. Not to mention, Amazon gets most of the money - printing, components and assembly take much of the rest leaving very little towards paying off the initial investment. That, coupled with less than honorable behavior from others, makes putting ourselves out there less than worth it.
I greatly appreciate your thoughts on the video, Darryl - as well as the heads up on your review. I can't give the 86 minutes back to you but I can return your money - just let me know how much and where to send it.
Thanks and fair winds to you -
Oh. I stepped in it, bigtime.
Gee, howza bout thinking before engaging mouth, hmm?
This is my further reply:
Mitch, you kind reply is all I need to get that hour and a half back. I am kind of ashamed to have been as mean as I was. This will be documented on my blog.
I was being sort of tongue in cheek vicious about the beginning of the review, like some of the real critics out there, who criticize rather than do.
Since you really stand behind your production, (and I can only imagine how hard it is to put together the jumbles into something resembling a story)
I will consider your video the home video of a friend and it will remain in our home. This has become more personal.
The invitation is there for you to visit my small blog and offer up your own criticism and comments as I rehash my own cruising experiences of the past ten years. The story will take the next few months, so I mean it--bring some of your experiences over to go along with mine.
I was really hoping to see some of the mundane sailing stuff, but now that you bring the production issues to light (like licensing music!) it gives me a better view of why there was what I saw. Eileen Quinn was kind to allow you to use her songs, again, my shame.
So to close, my congratulations on documenting your turn in the arena, and I know your next video will be something to look forward to and watch!
I stand rebuked, and my apologies for shooting off my mouth.
"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."
I hope that Mitch will come by and offer some of his commentary on cruising and I hope he can be a friend of the Barco Sin Vela sailing club.