Forward: Getting Real about FWDlabs.com

  • Published in FWD:labs

Part of a series of posts about the updates and upgrades of the quick iterations and new features at FWDlabs.com.

fwd_getting-real.jpgFWD:labs’ self-service web application kick-started in November 2006. You might not know it, but a lot has happened since. The quick iterations and new features have not been communicated as transparently, directly or clearly as I’d like. Time to get real about how it’s getting real.

I’d like to share the additions, fixes and efforts toward the web application and the discoveries, actions and receptions of self-starting a small, niche collective for creative artists in cinema.

Here is the behind-the-scenes activity in the last 3 months:

  • 11/17: E-mailed all artists who use FWDlabs.com
  • 11/13: Received feedback on 11/12’s goals from a FWD:labs member: “I just read it. It is good. Very nichey.”
  • 11/13: Received Q Collective’s e-mailer highlighting their business card. “Love the sticker concept.”
  • 11/13: Found camerajobs.net and thought, “Wow, this was painless. But will it be useful?”
  • 11/13: Heard about the ActorsAndCrew.com marketing e-mail via YouTube and spoke with a collective member about it: “Interesting approach (to highlight one member’s showreel). Good for one active user and maybe good prospective active users. Bad for everyone else?”
  • 11/13: FEATURE Added text only export of resume, easy for copy-and-paste to e-mails, other sites, etc.
  • 11/12: Revised a new PDF — big, bold words on FWD:labs’ goals, which needed re-aligning
  • 11/9: Sad but inspiring to find out about The Office in Santa Monica, a member’s only retreat for screenwriters, and its hit from the WGA strike
  • 11/4: FUNCTIONALITY Added e-mail privacy preferences — now database driven and self-service
  • 10/31: FEATURE Added database listing, grouped by role (standard titles) — now a way to show off every entry in the cast and crew database, across all projects
  • 10/30: Found a killer presentation (PDF): “No Time For Games: Playfulness in Interaction Design … Kevin Kearney, User Experience Director, Avenue A/Razorfish”
  • 10/28: FEATURE Added cast and crew database, complimenting the project database, with add/edit multiple with sorting, and mini-mailing list; updated project views, links, messages about cast/crew — now another reference and aggregate of collaborators
  • 10/27: FUNCTIONALITY Removed a middle step in updating a project; if it’s got errors, you’re back to the form with the usual highlighted note; if it’s problem-free, you’re congratulated back on your list of projects
  • 10/27: FUNCTIONALITY Added a visual calendar to select the date of a project, rather than typing in YYYY-MM-DD format.
  • 10/21: Revised the CSS style guide to re-align the clean image for FWD:labs
  • 10/21: FUNCTIONALITY Fixed the intranet profile page; think it’ll be best to put all modules into different PHP files, depending on their privacy issues (i.e. one for intranet, the rest pulled from the other side of the wall)
  • 10/21: FUNCTIONALITY Fixed the date from being year only (2007), to year/month/day (2007-10-21), for more intelligent sorting on the automated resume
  • 10/21: FUNCTIONALITY Fixed the hit counts from stopping at 127, a particular MySQL column limitation
  • 10/21: Added ThinkVitamin.com’s forms article to our Basecamp
  • 10/17: Found NPR’s This American Life – The Allure of Meanness
  • 10/13: Contacted a friend (print designer) about hiring interns: “You had some luck posting a job for an intern? I could use one myself. What was your ad like? Where did you post it? How’s the deal work — unpaid, hourly, or flat rates?”
  • 9/30: Found a traffic spike from Google result #26
  • 9/29: Re-evaluating the invite process w/ community developer
  • 9/23: Back to basics — shot “Scubaman” with a FWD:labs member
  • 9/21: Contacted a FWD:labs member about salon gathering venues: “IFC Center would be perfect but I believe the bar section is closed now… isn’t crazy loud music / dancing, you can sit, talk, drink and its off 6th Ave and easy to find.â€?
  • 9/17: Re-visited several chapters of “Getting Real,” from 37signals, to reinforce kicking butt

FWD:labs is alive and well, but it’s time to pick up the pace. I’ve held back from e-mailing our members and the consequences have meant sleepy users, missing out on what’s happened in the last 365 days.

Now, I’m ready to share the activity and evolution of the collective and energize the base to blossom and grow. I believe this web application solves real problems, exhibits well a handful of best practices in self-marketing, and lets members do extraordinary things for themselves care of FWD:labs.


Aaron Proctor
Founder, FWD:labs
Director of Photography site


[…] Being a regular listener of NPR via KCRW 89.9FM, This American Life has been linked here before, when I covered a month-in-the-life of running FWD:labs. […]

"You don't want to be making mediocre stuff" / Fast Forward - FWD:labs #

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