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What should your online persona be as an artist?
A conversation with filmmaker Jordan VanDina, King of Hollywood & correct user of social media
I always thought social media was a necessary evil for artists. Especially for folks going the independent route. It’s a way to “grow your brand” and remind people you exist. In the concrete world of corporate consolidation, audience-driven Kickstarters and Patreons grow like weeds in its cracks.
But what should your online persona be? For years, I’ve posted ridiculous hyperbole about my work. As a comedy (adjacent?) filmmaker, it made sense. But I’m writing more fiction these days and getting accepted into lit journals, and I wasn’t sure how to act. Most indie lit writers I like seemed very detached, very cool, on Twitter. They present their work with no hyperbole and barely any context as if to say: Here it is, fuckers. It made me wonder if I should dial things back. Maybe I shouldn’t say, “People Magazine is shitting itself about my new short story.”
I began editing Instagram posts and tweeting fewer fake NY Times quotes. But was I wrong to do so? I thought of everyone’s favorite online personality, Donald Trump. When he was running for president, talking shit, making up stuff. There was something revelatory about it. If you just kept repeating your own hype, people would believe you. Perhaps in this new world, the only way to promote your work was over-the-top hyperbole!
This brings me to Jordan Vandina, a writer/filmmaker who never wavered as I did. He’s fully committed to absurdist delusions of grandeur, and we, as a society, are better for it.
“Screenwriting Twitter” is usually home to very earnest unsolicited screenwriting advice. Jordan began tweeting nonsense advice, and I was delighted. It was a much-needed tonic.
Jordan’s Twitter profile reads: “The most important filmmaker of our generation.” And with that, he won a follow and a fan.
The following is my conversation with the man, the myth, (and quite frankly) the legend.
BM: I’m sure you don’t believe you’re the most important filmmaker of our generation, but my hunch is that by saying something ridiculous like this, you can talk about your work in a way that doesn’t feel gross. Am I right, or am I right?
JV: Wait a second, I do you the honor of granting you an interview with the King of Hollywood and your first question is telling me I’m NOT the most important filmmaker of our generation?! But yes, your hunch is exactly right! It’s weird because you work so hard to get the privilege of being paid to write or direct or do anything in film and then you feel strange bragging about it. So I think by being so over the top with it, it allows you to not only talk about your latest projects but do it in such an extravagant way that people assume you must be joking... When in actuality I probably am an egomaniac sociopath. I am an only child, so I think something definitely went wrong along the way.
Also as I was more aware of “screenwriter” twitter and saw how seriously people took themselves I found it very funny to tell people that I am the definitive source for all your industry answers and then tell them things like “Hollywood is just like prison, you have to punch someone on your first general meeting so they know you’re serious.”
BM: Has anyone taken your tweets at face value and actually believed what you were saying?
JV: Oh yeah! All the time. I remember there was a tweet about how it took the Stranger Things guys like 10 years to sell their pitch. And I said something like, “If you don’t sell your script within 48 hours of writing it, you should destroy it, give up on your dreams, and move back home to whatever shitty uncreative town you came from.” People didn’t like that.
BM: Are you worried about Twitter going away? If so, would you try to find a way to continue your online persona somewhere else? It can’t be Mastadon, right, that can’t be the thing, right?
JV: At first I wasn’t worried about it and now I’m very worried about it. It turns out that Elon guy isn’t that good at running Twitter!! The only time I’ve seen people posting about Mastadon is when they are complaining that it’s entirely too hard to use. So I don’t think I’ll go there. I don’t play video games so Twitch is probably out for me. I like the idea of an entirely new website that’s based on me and what I’m up to all the time. I think I’m describing a LiveJournal. I think I’ll do LiveJournal.
BM: You’re making your directorial debut with The Binge 2, coming to Hulu on December. 9th. How are you approaching the promotion of it online?
JV: I have mostly just been calling people on speaker phone and asking them to watch the movie. I call it phone banking and I encourage all my followers to do the same. I am waiting for a cease and desist from Hulu but until that happens I will be calling people across the globe and telling them to get Hulu. There’s just so many great shows and movies coming out every single week, it’s impossible to keep up. But I’m hoping if enough people post memes of Tim Meadows in an indoor hot tub while a grandma has a face full of cocaine in a Christmas movie, it will cut through the noise.
A still from The Binge 2.
BM: What parting words would you like to share on my substack, which billions of people read?
JV: I’d say 100% of any success I’ve had in the film industry is because of Twitter. I started with my website WeekendScripts.com where I would write a full script in a weekend and post it all on Twitter. And because of those I got an agent and manager and staffed on my first show. So I owe it all to Twitter. So I guess in conclusion I would say, not only am I the King of Hollywood, but I am also the King of Twitter. Thank you.
There you have it. The interview of the fucking year. Charlie Rose can eat my shit! You can follow Jordan here. But do me a favor and watch the Binge 2 on Hulu, December 9th.
WHAT ABOUT YOU GUYS IN THE COMMENTS?
How do you approach your “internet persona”? Do you not even think about this crap and live a normal life???
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