Kypsel, a new way to share art

Interview with Brunel student and founder of Kypsel, Luca Mouzannar

Brunel Writer – Tell us about Kypsel. What is it and how does it work?

Luca Mouzannar – Kypsel is a platform that directly connects writers with their fans and enables them to take part in the artist’s growth. On Kypsel, writers can freely publish and sell their work with the advantage of keeping full control over their work. We allow artists to publish their work with a few clicks without interfering in the artistic and creative integrity of the product. Once a book, web comic, music track or short story is published any buyer can resell the work to their friends on their own social networks. In return, the fans get a referral commission for every converted sale.

BW – How did you come up with the idea for creating this platform? Did it come from your own experience of trying to publish/sell creative work or did you simply see a gap in the market?

LM – A little bit both actually. One of the co-founders tried to publish work through traditional publishers and faced several issues – mainly low royalties, no flexibility in claiming these and a lot of changes to the creative product. At the same time, being surrounded by artists who do good work, I could clearly see a gap in the market, especially in the era of social media where it is so simple to publish a post but very hard to publish and sell creative work. When we think that Harry Potter was rejected by many publishers before finally seeing the light, it puts a lot into perspective!

BW – Has your experience of studying creative writing at Brunel played a part in the building of Kypsel as you continuously interact with young creatives?

LM – Of course! I have met so many talented people who have so much to express and I can see how difficult it is to get our work out there. Fans should be able to decide what is good work without any buffer. I’ve seen so many artists and creative talents fall into jobs they hate because they aren’t able to monetise their craft. Before we know it, a side job becomes a main job and writing becomes a hobby instead of a craft we can live off.

BW – Why should creatives choose to publish with Kypsel? How does it benefit them over other more known online platforms such as Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, etc.?

LM – The first big advantage is that Kypsel is free to use and offers higher royalties than any other platform. Remuneration is a lot fairer and the creative product itself remains untouched. Kypsel is more of a self-publishing tool than a publisher. It is extremely easy to start and work can be published with a few clicks. It is also a non-exclusive platform which allows creatives to use all the means at their best disposal to get their work out there and see for themselves what works best.

LM – We also believe the referral engine is unique to Kypsel and will incentivise fans to buy, refer and sell the work instead of downloading it for free. It is a great way to fight piracy and we believe it will amplify the authors’ success and give them access to audiences they might not have reached when using other platforms. We like to refer to this video to illustrate a lot of the issues with the bigger platforms.

BW – Do you see self-publishing as the future of publishing art or are renowned publishing companies and music corporations still the way to go?

LM – We sincerely believe self-publishing is the future of publishing because renowned publishers and music corporations take most of the profits and leave very little for the artists who put in the work. Fans are also the ones who promote the art they enjoy, so the role of those companies is becoming more and more obsolete, especially in the era of algorithms and social media. Another issue is speed. People, especially the younger generation, enjoy content more than the form it comes in and want it faster than ever. We also tend to trust people more than big entities so Kypsel exists to cut the middleman who slows down the process and doesn’t split profits fairly.

BW – Finally, where is Kypsel headed? What can we expect from this platform in the future?

LM – We are hoping it will grow exponentially and allow young artists to express themselves so we can keep reading the stories we love and listening to music we enjoy. We want to connect artists with their fans and expand our offer to include any virtual goods such as short movies and apps. Our vision is simply to free content from the boxes that it is usually put into because of industry standards that don’t match the current realities of web and social media and we believe this can go very far.

BW – Thank you Luca!

You can visit Kypsel here and start sharing your work today!

Nest: A Covid-19 Easter Mini-Saga

by Emma Filtness

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Friday

I sit on the green velvet couch in my third floor flat staring out of the closed door to my Juliet balcony, sweltering in the sky-blue heat, and I’ve got no idea why they call it a balcony when it’s just a door that opens onto fresh air mediated by a grey metal railing overlooking the faded tarmac of a car park and the ugly Tetris-piled red brick of the building next door and I think surely Juliet must’ve had better than this as I clutch a navy can of fly and wasp killer, knuckles white, lid off and in a perpetual “position of readiness,” to quote my secondary school PE teacher, Ms Rugg (I wonder what became of her) during enforced netball training thinking they didn’t teach me this, they didn’t prepare me for this, there wasn’t a class on how to deal with wasps building a nest above the door to an invisible balcony during a pandemic and I’ve been googling all morning, clicking on hit after hit of perfect nightmare material – stalker-lens close-ups of antennae and all those legs and stripes and stingers that can be used again and again unlike bees, I wish they were bees, and pictures of round grey nests that look like paper mâché creations from a hell-dimension, and home-remedies offering wisdom like spray surfaces with peppermint oil or a mixture of clove oil and lemongrass and I haven’t even got a spray-bottle let alone the peppermint oil, only lavender and frankincense for my oil burner but there’s no scientific evidence so I panic-order two kinds of wasp killer with Prime with a dose of extremely short-lived vegetarian guilt and after check-out it tells me they won’t be here for another week as apparently they’re not “essential” and the property management team are not answering their phones as it’s not only a pandemic but a fucking bank holiday and no amount of Easter eggs will ever make this okay.

Saturday

I binge-watch Grey’s Anatomy from the beginning in an attempt to distract myself from the hive. I somehow managed to forget just how amazing Sandra Oh’s hair is, and the rest of her, to be honest, and think I finally need to watch Killing Eve soon. I’d be under the duvet ideally, but it’s too hot what with the door and window closed and the evil little shits keep nosing at the window. When I turn off the lights to sleep, I see tiny flitting shadows everywhere, but I know they are not in my room – they are inside my head. I dream of wasps, obviously.

Sunday

My partner bought me a chocolate egg, a posh one from M&S, but I managed to drop it somewhere between the bag-for-life and the kitchen worktop, and it feels like the perfect metaphor for life this Spring. I eat most of my stoved-in egg anyway and feel sick afterwards.

Monday

Brian from Rentokil called. He’s coming over tomorrow. I eat the last of my egg and a whole bag of Colin the Caterpillars. I’m on Season Two already (which is impressive, even for me).

Tuesday

Brian from Rentokil arrived a whole hour early and I could’ve kissed him, social distancing be damned (relax, I didn’t).

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meDr Emma Filtness is a poet and lecturer in Creative Writing at Brunel University London, currently zine-making and binge-watching her way through the apocalypse. Follow her on Twitter @Em_Filtness and find her poetry project exploring nature and the dark feminine @cultofflora on Instagram.

Surviving The Horror That is Final Year Dissertation – by Amena Begum

‘What do you mean, I have to write a DISSERTATION?’

‘Well, I’m afraid that’s the only way you’ll be able to get your degree’, said the professor with a grin.

Dissertation…that’s a pretty big word and a rather terrifying concept, but as someone who’s gradually approaching the end of this experience, I can share some of the things I did to make it slightly more manageable. These tips and tricks certainly won’t make writing a dissertation a piece of cake, nor will it take away the stress, but it can certainly make life that tiny bit easier amidst the hundreds of other things that you’ll be required to do in final year.

You’ve got your topic, but you just don’t know where to begin. Completing a ‘disso’ can be a daunting task, since for many students this is the first time that they’ll have produced something on such a large scale. But fear not, I got you.

Firstly, plan, plan, plan! For something as big as this, it’s crucial to plan out your reading and chapter outlines early on. Start off by reading around your topic to get a general flavour of what you’re actually trying to nail down. Find books and articles which will enable you to see the bigger picture, and then slowly home in on the finer, crisper details specific to your chapters and research arguments. Shout out to Brunel Library, JStor, Academic Search Complete and many more for having my back! Make sure you have enough knowledge on your primary reading, so that way the extra secondary material will become much easier to apply. That’s the initial ‘gathering your materials’ phase tackled, now you’re probably thinking, ‛how do I go about starting?’ This is always a difficult question when it comes to a complex piece of work, but if you have planned sufficiently it should not be too taxing.

Many people, including some of my friends, prefer to write their introduction last because it allows them to piece all the threads together and outline what exactly they’re going to cover throughout the project. If the idea of writing a long introduction puts you on edge, then don’t worry, you can always come back to it later. It’s natural to feel most comfortable about writing your chapters on your chosen areas, since that’s what you’ll have spent the most time reading up on. In that case, start writing about your first chosen issue, combining all the relevant juicy secondary material that you’ve read. Continue to do this for each of your chapters, ensuring that there are links between the sections where applicable.

Next, let’s talk about making effective use of your supervisor. Now for some people, they just like to be left to their own devices and prefer not to be overshadowed. But personally, I would highly recommend keeping in regular contact with your dissertation supervisor. They are literally a godsend at a time like this! They’re the ones who have extensive knowledge in the area that you’ll be examining. As for me, I like to meet with my supervisor each time I complete a section as a good progress checker, and to gain feedback on how to sharpen my work even further. Often, we are subjective to our own work and are reluctant to find room for improvement since we’ve had our eyes glued to it for such a prolonged period of time. Use your supervisor’s help and expertise – that’s what they’re there for!

Finally, I want to address some general study habits that can make writing a dissertation simpler. Create a study group where you and your friends can work on the disso on a weekly basis. It’s unrealistic to say, ‘I’m gonna write a thousand words each day’, that ain’t gonna happen, so don’t be one of those people. It’s important to work on it over time so that it remains fresh and concise. Instead, plan out small chunks to work on at least twice a week in your study groups, bearing in mind that it won’t be possible to work on it daily, since you’ll have other assignments and commitments too. For a disso, study groups are a fantastic way of collaborating and providing each other with support. Dissertations can be exhausting both physically and mentally, so working alongside the right people can help put your mind and work at ease. You’re all in the same position and can help each other with constructive peer reviewing.

Those are my tips on how to survive the demon that will inevitably take over your life, aka disso. Hopefully they’ll be of good use and help you on your path to success. So, what are you waiting for? Get typing away on that keyboard!

 

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Amena is a third year English Literature student who can speak English, Bengali, Hindi, and Urdu. Despite the stereotype associated to Shakespeare as being the epitome of literature, he is actually her least favourite literary figure. Her aspiration is to one day become a university lecturer.

The Importance of Building an Online Presence as a Writer – by Amena Begum

Gone are the days when an author would publish their work and that was that. No engagement with their readership, public appearances or glossy interviews explaining the rationale behind their produced masterpiece. That, of course, was then. The stone ages, the ancient time, call it what you will. Now, we have progressed into a modern age in which a writer’s interaction with his or her audience and the public eye is of utmost significance. Think about it. How many times a day do you scroll through social media feeds aimlessly, networking with others, and most notably updating your own social media portals for them to see? The very same principle applies to writers. They too have to make a conscious effort to create and maintain their online profiles in order to attract readership and gain public demand.

Each writer’s virtual world acts as a mechanism to depict what they are like as an individual and what their works entail and carry. When crafting your online presence, you are not just showcasing yourself as a person, but rather, you are meticulously constructing your brand. This shows your active connection with your audience and displays your key values and ideologies, which helps gain the trust and loyalty of fans. Once that has been established, your community of fans/readers can wait for your upcoming works. This reflects anticipation and shows that they are keen to commemorate and enjoy what you have written. It is vital to note that your online presence must be in action prior to your first publication so that the appropriate recognition can be built, therefore creating a greater fan following.

Above all, the craftsmanship of a successful online presence feeds into the digital world’s dynamic of strategic marketing. It is all about promotion and advertising in a nifty way to make your mark. These days, with it being so easy to track down a writer’s profile as they are only one click away from a quick Google search, it is imperative to have a lively and impactful online presence. Having sound knowledge on how to present yourself as a writer in the fast-paced online world puts your work in good stead of attaining optimum success and enables your writing career to flourish. Internet-based mediums are a fresh and candid way to gain loyalty from your desired readership and it gives them a glimpse into your world of producing publications. The ease and accessibility that it has in today’s modernity makes individuals more willing to engross themselves into the writer’s world, and keeps them wanting more. What’s not to love about that? So, online presence making is a real game-changer for any budding writer or artist. For the upcoming writers out there, now is the time to start making a name for yourselves.

 

Amena is a third year English Literature student who can speak English, Bengali, Hindi, and Urdu. Despite the stereotype associated to Shakespeare as being the epitome of literature, he is actually her least favourite literary figure. Her aspiration is to one day become a university lecturer.

How I Made my Debut Short Film ‘Black Fish’ for the BBC – by Simi Abe

A still from Black Fish, written and directed by Brunel Creative Writing graduate, Simi Abe.

On September 16th 2019, I was fortunate enough to have my short film ‘Black Fish’ added to BBC iPlayer and shared across the BBC Arts social media pages. It all came about because I applied to the BBC New Creatives development scheme. And I only came across the scheme by chance while scrolling through Facebook. 

The Application 

When I saw the post on Facebook about BBC New Creatives, I was most interested in the fact it was open to both emerging filmmakers and those without prior experience.  I fell into the latter category; I’d only decided I wanted to direct films the year before, just after completing a degree in Creative Writing. So coming across this opportunity to have a short film funded by the BBC and Arts Council England, that could be shared on one of the BBC platforms, seemed like a great learning experience. And fortunately, I had a script for a short film that fit the brief: under 5 minutes. 

Although it looked like the perfect opportunity for me at the time, I almost didn’t apply. I was worried that my script was too ambitious (it was) and that I wasn’t up for the task of directing it. Thankfully, I went out on a limb and sent in my application. 

To apply, I had to send my application to one of the five media organisations assigned to different parts of the country. They functioned as support to the New Creatives, our production partners and they bridged the gap between us and the BBC. These media organisations cover: London, South East, South West, Midlands and the North. Living in the East, I sent my application to Screen South.

The Interview 

I knew the process of making the film would have to be completed within three months, yet I was still surprised to get a response to my application so quickly and was asked to come in for an interview in five days. Naturally, I was nervous; I had little interview experience and this one was conducted by three people. Fortunately, it went well and three days later I heard that I had been a successful applicant. 

The Training 

Three training days were held over two consecutive weekends led by the team from Screen South. The training was held in London and we had talks and exercises about the script: how to approach the story, how to edit it, storyboarding, distribution, working with a crew and the logistics of the scheme. It was a useful three days in which I also got to meet the other New Creatives and heard them talk about the stories they were hoping to tell. We all had varying backgrounds and levels of experience and although I was one of two people that had never made a film, most of us hadn’t been a part of a development scheme. Knowing I wasn’t alone in that sense was encouraging.

Pre-Production to Post

I applied for the scheme in March, the training days took place in April and the films needed to be completed by June. It was a tight deadline and quick turnover but it was necessary to keep momentum. So the Monday after the last training day, I shouldn’t have been surprised (and yet I was) that work would begin at full steam. 

Screen South had set me up with two producers and they had planned for a two-week pre-production period and the filming would be done in one day. Naturally, there was a lot to work out in such a short space of time – the script had to be edited to accommodate the budget and time we had (edited six times, to be exact), the storyboard, the shot list, wardrobe, actors, props, location, etc… all had to be sorted and signed off by Screen South in time for the shoot. 

Filming was a little hectic because we had a number of tight deadlines and time restrictions. The script, although short, had a fair amount of action and would have been more conveniently shot across two days. Yes, it was a stressful day and I went into it a little nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. I was on my feet all day except for the brief minutes I spent having lunch, but in spite of this, I enjoyed the experience of being on location and seeing something I had written slowly come together. It was a long but valuable day for my development as a filmmaker. I learnt a lot from my shortcomings and mistakes, all of which will be informative going forward. Not only that, but it also served as a lesson in trusting my ideas and being sure about how to communicate them.

Post-production began at the start of May and ended at the end of June. It was surprisingly the longest part of the process. It took twelve versions of the edit and many revisions of the score. It was enjoyable working with the editor and composer to rework the film and share ideas. I felt confident in my choices even when they had to be revised after receiving notes from the executive producers at Screen South. It took a lot of back and forth to get the film ready for the colour grade and sound mix at the Post House. At times it didn’t seem like it would come together but eventually, it did and it was a huge relief seeing the film completed.

Post Post-Production

When the film was sent to the BBC at the end of June, I didn’t anticipate that I’d hear from Screen South in September congratulating me that my film had been selected as one of the first to be on BBC iPlayer. And better than that, it was the first to be shared on social media. It has had 46,000 views across Facebook and Twitter to date, which I didn’t anticipate. It’s been humbling and encouraging having seen the response of friends, family and strangers online. It’s motivated me to keep pushing towards my goal of being a filmmaker which feels all the more possible now.

My short film, Black Fish is available to watch online now and you can find out more about the BBC New Creatives here.

Simi Abe