2017: Postmortem

Posted in film, meta on December 27th, 2017 by Samuel Kenyon

I skipped a couple years, but here’s a new personal postmortem. If you are wondering, a “postmortem” in project management is a retrospective to figure out lessons learned. Postmortem articles were featured in the classic magazine Game Developer, where I learned of the concept.

red carpet at Newark International Film Festival

What Went Right

  • Finished my feature film directorial debut “Brute Sanity.”
    • I traveled around with the movie on the film festival “circuit.” It won a couple awards. (You can get more info here.)
    • Massive amounts of learning technical post-production skills (continuing from 2016.)
    • It was picked up for distribution. This led to even more work and learning…
  • Did another Boston 48-hour Film Project. This time, instead of just acting, I also assisted with the screenplay and casting.
  • Left tech job (writing robotics software). It was forced—but they gave us a severance, and it freed up my time to work on film stuff.
  • Started working on my film company Imaginary Danger Productions LLC.
  • Skied in the Rocky Mountains (Brighton Resort, specifically) for the first time. Easily found—backcountry of course—what was probably the most difficult skiing I’ve ever experienced.
  • Visited Atlanta for the first time, Salt Lake City for the first time, Newark NJ (which I’ve been to before but this time I was more immersed). Also went to Kansas City, the Cleveland area (first time in Ohio), the Detroit area, Washington DC, and New York City.
  • Got divorced from Emili.

Brighton Resort, Utah

What Went Wrong

  • My tech job employer, the Cambridge division of Bio-Rad, which was a continuation of a start-up company called GnuBIO, was shut down completely by the parent company.
  • Started doing interviews. The reason I put this under “What Went Wrong” is that I shouldn’t have even bothered. I was caught up in the excitement and now I regret wasting time on this. Eventually I realized that at this point I am not that interested in already established companies older than about a year—if I’m going to invest time in someone else’s idea, I want to be able to create and manage a big chunk of the software part as opposed to coming in after the fun and risky early development has already been done.
  • Found a small company where I’d be the first full time software engineer and accepted the offer, which was a pretty good one…and then they somewhat suspiciously cancelled the deal.
  • Stretched my leg a bit too much during the aforementioned Brighton ski trip and had to do some physical therapy.
  • Got divorced—so you might say that the marriage “went wrong” but that depends on how you spin it. The relationship itself was a fantastic journey and a mere marriage-and-divorce does not sully that.

Sam and the Philip K. Dick robot at Escape Velocity in Washington DC

2014: Postmortem

Posted in film, meta on October 20th, 2015 by Samuel Kenyon

Oh no! I forgot to post a personal postmortem 1 for the year 2014 like I did for the previous year! Oh well, here it is ten months late.

What Went Right

  • Started a new day job at a biotech company called GnuBIO, now the skunkworks division of Bio-Rad. Essentially I write robotics code for microfluidics inventions that will ultimately contribute to human health improvement via diagnostics.
  • Made a short film based on my screenplay Enough to be Dangerous.
  • Got married to Emily. On Halloween. Proposal happened…on April Fool’s Day.
  • Visited Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Visited Philadelphia, including the Mütter Museum.
  • Moved to a smaller but better located apartment in Cambridge.
wedding dance to dubstep

wedding dance to dubstep

 

Istanbul

Istanbul

We had a few drinks with AI researcher Eray Özkural in Istanbul:

Eray Özkural, Samuel H. Kenyon, and Emily Durrant in Istanbul

Eray Özkural, Samuel H. Kenyon, and Emily Durrant in Istanbul

The Movie

I was able to kick my film Enough to be Dangerous into gear fairly quickly once I decided it should be done. Aside from writing and producing it, I also was the lead actor.

Enough to be Dangerous

Enough to be Dangerous

Making a film has all the same problems that a startup company does, although the boundaries between the “company” and the “product” can be different. Particularly in this case, my new company (called at the time “Subterfugue Films” (a horrible portmanteau)), is vaporous and all the resources existed for the “product”, which is the film itself. Recently (in 2015) I renamed my film company to Imaginary Danger Productions.

Enough to be Dangerous was finished under budget, although I went over-budget on film festival costs. It was accepted to various film festivals (see the official page for more info), so it was successful in that regard. I’d love to remake it as a full-length feature, however, as it really is uncomfortably compressed to fit into 35 minutes.

What Went Wrong

Startup

I co-founded a tech company called Glug, but within a few months decided to leave it (the company is now dissolved).

This startup turned out not to be ideal for me for various reasons, so I quit. Also at that time I realized I’d rather put all that startup energy into making my film.

The most important lesson learned is not to invest any money on incorporation or legal fees before you know if the product/company will even launch for real. Another thing I learned is a proposed new tech product should be able to garner followings from hundreds if not a thousand people (e.g. on mailing lists or social networks) even if those first thousand people aren’t the actual early adopters—it’s a crude measure of general interest.

Image Credits
– wedding photo by Tanya Rose

Notes

Tags:

2013: Postmortem

Posted in meta on January 19th, 2014 by Samuel Kenyon

This is a personal postmortem (aka retrospective), not a report on the world at-large.

crossing a stream in the Amazon

crossing a stream in the Amazon

What Went Right

I accomplished several things of a wider diversity than I did in 2012, particularly new-to-me activities.

Riding horses in Iceland

Riding horses in Iceland

Highlights:

  • Sky-dived for the first time
  • Went outdoor top-rope rock climbing for the first time
  • Submitted two artificial intelligence papers to conferences/symposia, one of which was accepted
  • Went to aforementioned symposium and presented a poster for it
  • Wrote 25 blog posts
  • Started working on developmental systems
  • Started a new job (technically started mid Dec 2012)
  • Wrote a new, improved version of my short film screenplay, Enough to be Dangerous
  • Started working on a horror film screenplay
  • Acted in a music video for Wake No More
  • Acted in a book video for Kissing Oscar Wilde
  • Acted in a a BU short comedic film called South x Southeast (screened in Dec 2012, but we’ll count it since the video appeared online in 2013)
  • Explored Iceland
  • Explored Ecuador
    • Including rising to the highest elevation I’ve ever been at
    • Explored (via a guide) the Amazon rainforest
      • Monkeys!
      • I ate a grub (it wasn’t raw–it was cooked (smoked) by the natives)
  • Learned to ride a horse (in Iceland, also went riding in Ecuador in the Andes mountains)
  • Explored the entire Freedom Tunnel in New York
  • Went sailing for the first time (part of a company forced-fun day, but it was fairly interesting)
  • Participated in No Pants Subway Ride
Laundromat cafe, Reykjavik, Iceland

Laundromat cafe, Reykjavik, Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

A volcanic crater we climbed up to

Iceland

Iceland

Kayaking in the volcanic crater of Quilotoa, Ecuador with Emily

Kayaking in the volcanic crater of Quilotoa, Ecuador with Emily

Me holding a freshly opened jungle coconut (Amazon rainforest)

Me holding a freshly opened jungle coconut (Amazon rainforest) (photo by Emily Durrant)

What Went Wrong

AI Paper Number 2

The second papers I wrote was obviously not ready (both the paper and the research), but I submitted it anyway. However, I got excellent feedback in the rejection.

Not Enough Personal Coding

Although I worked a lot on non-work projects, I didn’t write as much code as I wanted. Still, I think there was an increase from 2012.

Not Enough Hardware

Aside from testing some little programs I wrote on a NAO robot, I didn’t do any work with real robots in 2013. I need to improve the balance of theory to implementation with my robotic and computational intelligence ideas.

Not Enough Art

I didn’t make any new drawings except for a few doodles. Also although I’ve written some notes for new music compositions, I didn’t actually generate any new music last year…although I did finally post an old composition on Soundcloud.

Skydiving

I didn’t like being squashed in a painful/awkward position on the floor of an overfull plane and without even any handles to pull myself up out of this position. It kind of ruined the whole experience until later on after the parachute was out and we were gliding—after tumbling ridiculously on exiting the plane and almost going unconscious from lack of breathing. Apparently the instructor was supposed to tell me about making sure to breath (the experience is quite new if you are not used to having your face blasted with air as you plummet from the highest location you’ve ever jumped before), but he failed to do so. I probably won’t go back to that airfield and if I do, I will make sure I’m not getting on the plane unless I can crouch or sit in a safe, un-strained, non-distracting position.

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I’m Back

Posted in meta on September 3rd, 2011 by Samuel Kenyon

To the few people who actually read this blog:

I will resume posting soon!

I took a break from this blog for a couple months. However, I did not stop writing—I was working on fiction, specifically screenwriting. I used to write screenplays and short stories in high school, but it’s been a while. I sort of had to relearn how to do it. To go along with the screenwriting, I also got some acting training. It was quite fun.

Stay tuned.

photo of Samuel H. Kenyon

Me