12 Questions with Toby Morton, Writer

I first met Toby Morton earlier this year. But in all honesty, it seems like I’ve known him a very very very very long time. MOSTLY that’s a good thing. From the time we first met, we got along like old friends, and it’s possible I’ve said some things to him that I shouldn’t have, but so far he’s been very forgiving. Maybe he’s my long lost brother, I don’t know, but in any case, he’s a neat-o person and a very funny person.

Toby got his start writing for the ubiquitous Southpark show – and he has literally skyrocketed into the world of comedy writing from there (OK maybe not “skyrocket” but he’s up there). I’m hopeful that someday, he and I will collaborate on something, and IT WILL BE AWESOME. Until then, he was kind enough to take the time to answer 12 questions I had for him – so without any further ado, here’s what he has to say.

12 Questions with Toby Morton, Writer

1. Tell us about yourself – what would you like us to know about you?
I’m the youngest of 9 children. As a child I always saw myself as more of an entertainer who wanted to be a pop star. Not a rock star, but POP star. Obviously Pop is less about the music and more about entertaining…in my opinion. My writing career began in the fall of 2000 as a Consultant for the television show, South Park. I’ve also written for Madtv where I I not only wrote live sketches, but wrote and produced my weekly animated series, “Weekly Kid’s News with Toby.” From there I wrote for E! Entertainment Television and worked on scripts for Warner Brothers and Disney.
I’m currently living in Tulsa, Oklahoma with my wife and our dog. After travelling most of my life and moving from state to state to overseas, I’ve never been happier and more content living here.

2. What is your “work”?
I’m a Writer/Producer. Freelance writing as well as creating projects of my own for features, animated series and live action comedies.

3. Why were you drawn to this field?
A huge part of who I am is always seeing creativity in everything good and bad. I suppose I wasn’t drawn so much as it just became a part of my life at a very young age. Writing and creating has always been a huge part of my life.

4. How do you get ideas for your work projects?
I honestly don’t know where the ideas come from. Unfortunately I can never pin down a time when they come. But I’ve been lucky to have plenty of ideas that have gotten me this far. Depending on the project, I usually watch a film or television show that is in the same realm or genre as the project I’m working on. That usually inspires me.

5. What one piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to get started in this business? How about as a hobby?
In 2003 I was a solid 3 years into my professional writing career. It was until this time that I had been writing for other people. And by this I mean, writing what I felt they would like to see. It’s a very common thing to fall into the trap of writing what you feel others will relate to and in the end, it’s not who you are or what you really want to say. When you’re hired for a creative writing job, you’re hired because they want YOUR voice. They want what YOU have to say. Of course you want to collaborate with them and get a sense of what it is they’re looking for. But after that, write for YOU. Write what makes YOU laugh. Write what makes YOU feel. Otherwise, you’re just giving about 47% of what you’re capable of. (As a child, I always loved the number 47…no reason)

6. What kinds of things to you like to do – what are some of your hobbies or interests?
In 2008 during the WGA Writers Strike, I accomplished one of my “bucket list” goals by writing and recording my first and ONLY CD of original songs. I’ve always written lyrics and music since grade school. I taught myself how to play the piano and part of my writing process for projects is being able to step away from it and play music.

7. What do you think is the most challenging thing about being a “creative” person?
The ideas never stop. Most would not see this as a challenge because it’s always good to have ideas. However, once I have an idea, I can’t let go of it until I’ve gotten everything I can out of it. I sometimes spend days on an idea whether it’s good or bad and in the end, it may be something that just plain sucks. I wake up at odd hours of the night with ideas that need to be addressed before I can fall back asleep.

8. Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert, and do you think this has any bearing on your Work?
As a child I was an extrovert. I wanted to be around all different types of people. Being the youngest of 9 that wasn’t always my decision. There was always someone around. But these days I am most definitely an introvert. That could be from growing up the youngest of 9 and just wanting “me” time. Thinking more about it, I’m actually an even amount of both. This most definitely has bearing on my work. Depending on the project, I allow either Introvert or Extrovert Toby to come to the surface….actually, reading that back makes me realize that I should immediately seek help.

9. Were you creative as a child? Can you give us an example of something you did that stands out in your memory? What were your favorite things to do?
Once again, being the youngest of 9 kids, you had to stand out. You fought for attention. This made me who I am today in that I’m always creating a new environment around me. When I was 5 years old I would rewrite the back of cereal boxes. I always felt bored reading those “about this cereal” type of bits they would place on the back for information. I would give these stories my own “view” and my mom would tape my new and improved stories to the boxes. Also, I had a difficult time playing with others when it came to action figures. I always had a backstory for toys. “What, you want these two to fight?! WHY? Why are they fighting? What started this argument between He-Man and Skeletor?” This would obviously annoy friends my age who simply wanted to just battle.

10. If you had to define your “Personal Brand” in one sentence, what would it be?
Comedy writer and producer for television and film. Sounds basic, but, that pretty much sums it up.

11. Do you like to read? If so, what kinds of things to you like to read? What are a few of your favorite books?
I’ve always been drawn to reading scripts. Television scripts, film, and even commercials. I have rarely been able to sit down and read a whole book because I always get too deep into the visual that I’m playing in my head. Most call this ADD, I call it being too creative? No? Fine, ADD it is :/
If pressed I would say A Clockwork Orange, Anything by Shel Silverstein, and one of my all time favorites, Nick Hornby, who’s books were adapted to great films like About A Boy and High Fidelity. Someone asked me the other day what my favorite screenplays were. I have 4 (again, part of my favorite number 47) By the way, it’s VERY rare that great screenplays were made into equally great films. If you’ve never read screenplays or only a few here and there, I would highly suggest stepping out of your comfort zone and reading one if not all of these 🙂
The Godfather
About a Boy
Witness
Back to the Future

12. Where is your favorite place to get coffee? (If not coffee, then tea, or alcohol?)
I don’t have one favorite place. I prefer to bounce around to different coffee shops and bars. I do enjoy The Phoenix because it does have some of the best people watching with a great writing atmosphere. But I do like to mix it up a bit and sit upstairs during the day at McNellies from time to time. I’m never without some sort of writing material.

12 Questions with Toby Morton, Writer
comedy – the morning after

You can find Toby’s personal website right here. Thanks for sharing, Toby!

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12 Questions with Christina Gandolfo, Photographer

12 Questions for a supercool human

You may recall that I got to meet super awesome human Christina last time I was in SoCal, in August. We had originally found each other through Instagram and also have a mutual friend or two. And it was her cat Lucy that inspired me to write a children’s story: “Lucy and the Paper Lantern.” Which, by the way, is still going to be illustrated by another internet friend, Cynthia Frenette, and self-published – probably sometime next year.
The world is getting smaller and smaller. Isn’t it amazing that you can meet such incredible people, just by a few taps of your fingers?

Christina is a professional photographer in Los Angeles and is a regular contributor to Los Angeles Magazine. She also takes on all sorts of projects for other publications and individuals. When we met, she had some really interesting insights into photography as storytelling, so I was really excited when she agreed to answer a few additional questions on her experiences as a creative person.
Below are the questions, and thoughtful answers, as well as a few of her photos and links to her work.
Thanks again, Christina!

12 questions with christina gandolfo
christina and lucy

Tell us a about yourself – what would you like us to know about you?
I’m fun-loving, happy-go-lucky, outgoing, energetic but with a private side. Communication and authentic connection is critical and I’m not one who likes living my life online or divulging personal thoughts or opinions in a public way. My closest friendships span 30+ years. I’m opinionated yet empathetic and easily persuaded by good arguments. I like people who challenge me in a thoughtful way. Also, I played dress-up with my pets as a kid; way before it was the norm.

How did you get started in the photography business, and how long have you been doing it professionally?
Photography was a hobby and passion since age 12. I started shooting regularly after a cancer diagnosis in 2005 and two years later decided to shift careers– from magazine writer/editor to photographer (not a giant leap but it did require starting over in many regards). I’ve been living in LA and shooting assignment work since 2009.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to get started in photography as a hobby? How about as a business?
Hobby and business are vastly different worlds. As a hobbyist take the time to learn about the interplay between aperture, shutter speed and ISO. At its core photography is about balancing light and telling the camera how to create the image you see in your head. Unless you know how to work these three fundamentals it’s just trial-and-error.
Advice for the business of photography: First and foremost have a clear point of view and shoot consistent work that conveys your unique perspective. There’s a surplus of competent photographers in today’s market so it’s not enough to know how to light and take a flattering portrait. It’s the photographers who create a consistent, recognizable body of work that get the best work. Also, be ready to work hard. Really, really hard.

Why were you drawn to photography specifically?
The opportunity to show; not tell. And to capture something in a way that otherwise might not be seen.

How do you get ideas for your photography projects?
I tend to get a lot of ideas in the shower. But inspiration is everywhere. I do a lot of walking in LA and often I get creative nudges by simple scenes I see in my neighborhood. And all the usual places—film, tv, books… it can be something as simple as a beautifully crafted sentence or use of color or brilliant cinematography that may flash on the screen only for a second.

What do you think is the most challenging thing about being a “creative” person?
Showing range while remaining consistent to a single point of view.

Would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert, and do you think this has any bearing on your work?
Ambivert all the way! I’m social and outgoing but also cherish moments when I’m home with no commitments and I require more alone time than people who know me might guess. I need time to process… I’m not one to just sail through life without examining where I’ve been and what’s next.

What are some of your hobbies – what else do you like to do besides taking pictures?
I’m active by nature. Urban hiking, riding my bike, traveling, spending time with my partner, family, good friends, live music, live performance, books, documentaries, house projects. Making lists; crossing things off!

Were you creative as a child? Can you give us an example of something you did that stands out in your memory? What were some of your favorite things to do?
My mom swears I had a lot of imaginary friends but I remember only one—her name was Celery and she was around for a while. I was big on dares as a kid; my family could get me to do just about anything on a dare. I loved building forts and exploring and getting into relatively harmless mischief. I’ve always been good at pushing boundaries without getting into a whole lot of trouble. I guess there’s a certain creativity in that.

If you had to define your “Personal Brand” in one sentence, what would it be?
Colorful, energetic, happy, humorous.

Do you like to read? If so, what kinds of things to you like to read? What are a few of your favorite books?
I’m a sucker for a good memoir by smart, funny women—Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaeling, Lena Dunham, Felicia Day, Tina Fey. Current read is “#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso.

Where is your favorite place to get coffee? (If not coffee, then tea, or alcohol?)
Paper or Plastik in the Pico-Fairfax neighborhood of LA.

12 questions with christina gandolfo
christina’s cat, doo
12 questions with christina gandolfo
kermit, as photographed by christina
12 questions for christina gandolfo
tv’s scott foley, as photographed by christina

You can find Christina’s web site here, and you can also follow her on Instagram.

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12 Questions with Derrick Giltner, Photographer

Creative people are awesome. And a lot of them like coffee.

When I travel, I try to meet up with cool people that I’ve met online, like Christina or Daniel and Julie. That’s so fun! But it turns out I haven’t met some of my IG / FB friends here in town yet, either. So a few weeks ago, Derrick Giltner and I had a chance to meet up in person for a coffee at Hoot Owl, right here in Tulsa.
Derrick is a local graphic designer by day, who also loves photography and runs a photography biz on the side. We had a nice chat over lattes, because you know, we are both Coffee People. And it turns out we even have a few friends in common.
I thought I would take this opportunity to ask Derrick a few questions about being a creative person, and he was kind enough to find a few minutes to answer them. I’ll actually be doing this with other people I know too – so he gets to be first! Here’s 12 Questions for Derrick, and his responses. I hope you enjoy it! And thanks again Derrick, for the meet-up, the photos, and these answers!

12 Questions with Derrick Giltner
i took a picture of Derrick.
12 Questions with Derrick Giltner
and he took a (much better) picture of me.

12 Questions with Derrick

Tell us about yourself – what would you like us to know about you?
I am a husband, father, son and brother and I love my family dearly. I enjoy shifting my own gears and fixing my own stuff. My blood type is coffee. I collect cameras. And lastly, I’m a creative, seeking the beauty in everything.
What is your “Day Job?” Does it overlap into any of your hobbies?
I’m a graphic designer by day. Being creative is just who I am, especially when it comes to photography.
How did you get started in photography, and how long ago?
I was about 14 when I got my first Canon film camera and a couple of rolls of Kodak TMax from my mother. It was a great learning experience. I didn’t start shooting seriously until about 6 years ago, when my oldest daughter was born.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to get started in photography as a hobby? How about as a business?
Create artwork you are passionate about, find your niche and don’t get wrapped up in the gear. Shoot with what you have until you feel it is holding you back creatively, and most importantly, shoot with other photographers and learn from them. They are the best teachers.
Why were you specifically drawn to photography?
Being able to capture moments in time, like the birth of my daughter, is extremely rewarding. I look back at photos I’ve taken of my children and I remember the day, the time, and how they were acting – it’s like a rewind button on life. To me, you can’t beat that.
Do you prefer taking pictures of people or things? Why?
Both have an appeal. If you photograph a horse walking down the road, that horse doesn’t care what his profile looks like. On the other hand, photographing people is about connecting enough with the subject to make THEM feel comfortable with what you’ve captured. Even people who don’t consider themselves photogenic can find something about a photo they like, if you’ve made them feel comfortable.
What do you think is the most challenging thing about being a “creative” person?
Constantly trying to better yourself. I’m always pushing myself to learn a new technique or style, whether it’s design or photography. Constant learning is key.
Would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert? Do you think your status affects your work? If so, how?
I’m an ambivert. I really do like meeting new people and trying new things, but I have to be in that mood. Sometimes putting yourself out there is one of the hardest things you can do. I feel like in my field of work, it’s great to be extroverted in order to reach out to new people and gain new clients, but being introverted allows you to really hunker down and crank out massive amounts of work. There is a time for both.
What are some of your hobbies – what else do you like to do besides taking pictures?
Other hobbies include honey-do lists (thanks, Jinni), home repair, woodworking, scaring my kids (they love it, too), drinking cheap wine, drinking great coffee in greater company, Marvel movies, and collecting cameras.
If you had to define your “Personal Brand” in one sentence, what would it be?
Capturing real moments.
Do you like to read? If so, what kinds of things to you like to read? What are a few of your favorite books? (You could substitute movies here if you like)
I really don’t like reading, but I do love large scale black and white photo books.
Where is your favorite place to get coffee? (If not coffee, then tea, or alcohol?)
Honestly, I’ll get a coffee from anywhere if I’m with friends, but I really do love the Chai Latte from Hodges Bend.

You can find Derrick’s personal web site right here.

His wedding photography biz is here.

And you can also follow him on Instagram.

 

12 Questions with Derrick Giltner

 

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