For Mark Webber’s ‘Reality Cinema’, Lack of Resources is its Strength

Mark Webber’s ‘Flesh and Blood’ is a docu-fiction hybrid starring his unconventional real-life family.

The only thing that’s fabricated in Mark Webber’s documentary-fiction hybrid Flesh and Blood is its inciting incident: Webber, who plays himself, did not, in reality, serve prison time. The film opens as he is released into the inner-city Philadelphia streets, where he grew up impoverished and intermittently homeless, raised by his single mother, Cheri Honkala, now an activist and Green Party politician. Though Webber has resolved to return to life as a free man with practiced grace and optimism, the world around him has changed little—it’s still plagued by the temptations and injustices that contributed to Webber’s imprisonment in the first place.

“I wanted to use the lack of resources as my strength, not a limitation.”

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No Film School

Virtual Reality (VR) Storytelling Structure

One of the coolest parts of the Raindance Film Festival was my first introduction to VR technology. As I sat in a Masterclass I learned how challenging this new technology is for linear story telling. The viewer could be looking left while the big murder happens to the right. The rest of the story doesn’t make sense if you don’t have your head turned the right way. VR storytelling could become a challenge and an art of coaxing the viewer to look where you want them to look.

This could be a call to write a non-linear story. There could be a story where the elements inspire a person to explore as they feel compelled.  The climax is their personal understanding of an important message – the meaning behind all the actions and symbols they experienced in the world of the story.

This idea was pretty exciting for me because I wrote a book on a story structure that is non-linear. There are thirteen beats – key elements in the transformation of the protagonist – but they can happen in any order. I don’t mean you can use flashbacks and leaps into the future. The story can unfold in any order and when a critical mass of understanding is reached the story reaches its climax. Its like the viewer is writing the story through the way they experience it. The story teller is creating the space where the elements of personal growth are all waiting to be found.

My book is called The Virgin’s Promise. Its name comes from a virgin forest – trees recognised as being valuable just for being themselves. The Virgin story is of learning who you are, separate from what everyone else expects of you, and bringing your true self to life. This internal journey is in high contrast to the hero’s journey, which focuses on overcoming external dangers.

VR storytelling, with the viewer as a part of the story, has a natural compatibility with stories of internal growth.

The movie Arrival for example, could make an excellent VR movie. People would know to go to the pod at a specific time each day to be pulled forward in the plot. The rest of the time they could be wandering between the masculine and the feminine perspective trying to understand whatever inspired their curiosity. They could be driven by a desire to experience novelty or to feel the contrast of masculine science and war and feminine communication and relationships thinking styles and see how those differences produce different world-views.

In non-linear story telling, the viewer could make their discoveries in any order and the insight would still be profound. The climax happens when the protagonist, in this case the VR viewer, reaches an internal connection to something that is meaningful.

The arrival of VR technology has created a marvellous challenge for storytelling. We can create devices that will pull the viewer in the direction of a linear story and we can write stories that are virtual playgrounds for the viewer to explore and reach their own insights.

Kim Hudson
Author of The Virgin’s Promise

Kim Hudson’s Raindance Workshop December 2,3, 2017
Raindance Hands on Virtual Reality Workshop

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Raindance

Virtual Reality: New Medium, New Rules

Virtual Reality: New Medium, New Rules is not a new concept.

In 1987, the American philosophy writer, computer scientist, visual artist, and composer of classical music Jaron Lanier created the term ‘virtual reality’. In fact, visual simulators have been in existence for over seventy years.

In case you haven’t noticed, virtual reality is swamping media channels. During a hiatus in the 1990’s while the film industry courted 3D, three companies kept developing VR: Disney, NASA and the American military. VR finally exploded onto the scene and leapt from geek-dom to mainstream on November 5 2015 when the New York Times launched the NYTVR app populated by innovative work by VR creative.

Suddenly VR was front and centre.,

Virtual Reality: New Medium, New Rules

Most filmmakers approaching VR for the first time bring their exisiting skillsets with them. Many don’t work – as the basic principles for creation of VR are different from the old-school rules for making ‘flatties’.

Here are ten principals we teach and demonstrate at Raindance Film Festival, both in our VR training programme, and at these three events during the festival.

1. A Whole New Medium

There are several different types of experiences broadly labelled VR. Understanding the difference will help you understand the technology, and also the types of language you should employ as a filmmaker.

360° video

Usually 360° video is a passive experience where the viewer enters a narrative created by the filmmaker. Unlike stories directed within a frame, 360 films have the ability to deliver immersion and a felt presence inside the story. Many experienced 360 filmmakers have are already starting started to introduce light interactions that allow the viewer to either choose a path within the story or to interact with an object or a character.

VR or Virtual Reality

VR is a term that describes a three-dimensional, computer generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a person, ‘the experiencer’. The experiencer becomes immersed in the environment of the virtual world and whilst there, is able to manipulate objects, perform a series of actions or interact with characters. VR creators become world builders by building simulated worlds and narratives within computer-generated environments. Development tools that are needed to create such simulated worlds are game engines such as Unity or Unreal. Game designers have used game engines which are used by game designers to create video games for years.

AR or Augmented Reality

AR experiences allow the viewer to layer a computer-generated virtual layer on top of the real world by using a smartphone or a tablet. Popular examples are location-based AR games such as Pokémon Go or or AR apps such as Snapchat. Earlier this year Apple announced their ‘ARKit’ development tools for developers, and many creators are now building amazing narrative-based AR experiences for the iPhone. A notable example is Augmented Reality’s A-ha Moment.

MR or Mixed Reality

Mixed Reality is an overlay of simulated content on the real world that is anchored to and interacts with the real world. Unlike AR, the key characteristic of MR is that the simulated content reacts to changes in the real world in real time.

2. VR storytelling is influenced theatre in the round

360° video is created by a single image capture device with different cameras pointing front and back, up and down. The simplest cameras have two wide angle lenses facing front and back.

Here is where it get’s interesting. In traditional filmmaking, the actors can stand in one position and the camera can move around them. Think of the opening scene in reservoir dogs where the camera circles the gangsters table, moving around and around, and drawing the audience into the scene. In 360/VR it’s the other way around. The camera sits in the centre and the actors move around, usually in four quadrants.

Does this happen to remind you of theatre in the round? Or so-called immersive theatre? Storytellers for this new medium are naturally drawn to the methods and techniques their theatrical colleagues employ.

3. Theatre in the round is as old as the hills

Immersive theatre isn’t new. Nor is so-called hybrid media new.

Way back in ancient Rome, audience members trekking to the Coliseum were met by minstrels wearing the show costumes a kilometre from the stadium.

As a kid in Toronto I played ball hockey on the street wearing jerseys of our favourite Toronto Maple Leaf. I was always Number 27 Frank Mahovolich – the classy ‘Big M’. And whenever I scored a goal my mates would yell ‘Mahavolich Shoots! He Scores’. Then we would all troop to a friends house and watch the real Mahovolich play with the Leafs on Hockey Night In Canada.

The techniques of storytelling in the round are all around us. The creative opportunity for creative is to learn from the past, to assimilate techniques from different story mediums and then harness these to the new advances technology has given visual story telling.

4. Leave the cinematic rules of flatties behind

When cinema was born, there was unlimited content that would fit the flat screen: theatre from proscenium arches. With this amazing birth of cinema was developed a whole technique and school of thought about performance, production, post-production and marketing.

Here’s the difference with 360/VR and all the other types of immersive and augmented reality equipment. Unlike cinema, there is still very little virtually no content for the new tech.

5. Learn from music composers

One of the challenges VR filmmakers have is how to write the scripts. Do you write a traditional movie script, with the different angles notated? Along the lines of 0-90 degrees, 9 – 180 degrees, 180- 270 degrees and 270 – 360 degrees and so on?

Mike Figgis made a fascinating film Time Code in which 4 cameras in different locations ran simultaneously. His script was written on musical score sheets – one stave per camera. As a musician, Mike used the musical bars to designate minutes so all four cameras could sync. If on viewing the rushes he noticed it was out of sync, he could tell Saffron Burrows to say her dialogue on minute 26 instead of minute 27.

Virtual Reality: New Medium, New Rules

6. Focusing the action

One of the common error we have noticed at Raindance VR training is how flattie filmmakers rush the opening of their VR movies. Remember the diffeerence between a flattie and 360 film. In a flattie the audience can quickly assimilate the scene. But in VR the viewer needs time to assimilate to the environment created. Don’t rush the story. Let it settle and percolate. As a creator you have the power to decvde what the experience sees first.

This diagramme might be one way to notate how the action starts and then moves around the environment.

VR: New Medium New Rules

7. Learn to stitch

This is a really important difference between a flattie and a 360° film. In a traditional film we cut between cameras. We use master shots, medium and close-up shopts. Cutaways are also a big part of editing a flattie.

But in the virtual world where the camera sees everything, usually from at least two and as many as two dozen cameras – all running simultaneously. Where they overlap, an editor needs to carefully stitch the different cameras together so the viewer perceives a seamless view.

This means VR creators need to understand blocking. For example when an actor crosses a stitch line. Lighting is important too. In 360° filmVR we use diegetic light. In traditional film we use non-diegetic light.

What is diegetic light?

8. Omni-directional sound

In a flattie the sound is generated by voices and sound effects on the screen. We use sounds coming from the left and right channels.

In VR sound can come from anywhere. Just as in real life, a bang from behind us causes us to turn to the sound. In making VR we can record the sound and then in the edit decide in which quadrant the sound is louder.

9. The theatrical experience

Watching a VR experience has so far been largely is essentially a solitary experience, contrary to the group experience of watching a movie in the cinema.

Two developments in VR exhibition are challenging our traditional expectations of cinema.

Firstly is the rise of the interactive film pioneered by the interactive movie Late Shift.

In the theatrical version of Late Shift the audience takes decisions on behalf of the protagonist via their smartphones and based on majority votes while the film keeps running seamlessly. The participative cinema event offers a unique experience and can exclusively be attended in selected cinemas and at festivals.

Secondly is the rise of the VR Arcade like the one at Raindance where individuals buy a time slot, like in a movie theatre. Instead of one movie, people join a group of others, each with a headset. They can then select from a menu of experiences to enjoy until their time runs out. We have discovered at Raindance that audience members love to mingle at the end of their time slot and discuss the different experiences with each other.

Virtual Reality: New Medium, New Rules

10. Stories that are suited to VR

When cinema was invented over a hundred years ago, content was essentially transferred from the proscenium arch stage to the flat screen. With the advent of 360° film we have found that there is still very little content that readily fits this new technology. Unsurprisingly gaming has used the technology to great advantage.

Certain types of story forms are readily adapted to 360° film and VRVr. News and documentary , for example. The Battle for Falluja, a documentary experience by the New York Times, puts you right in the middle of a gun battle.

The key advantage of 360° film is how it places the viewer right into the story intensifying the emotion.

Fade Out: The Wild Wild World of VR

Thomas Edison’s Boxers and the Lumiere Brothers earliest films seem crude and clumsy today. But that is exactly where VR is today. As cinema techniques developed and flourished so to will VR continue to expand and develop. It would be a good idea to follow the work of Jaron Lanier – except he has no social media at all!

As the technical aspects of VR develop so too will the creators discover new and exciting ways to work with this amazing new technology. Cinema developed because the technology was put in hands of artists. We call these artists filmmakers. Will our technology companies intrust artists with their new babies? And if so, what will we label the artists creating VR?

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Raindance

Crafting Virtual Reality Experiences for Social Change and Impact

For the first time in history, virtual reality can give us an opportunity to more efficiently and sustainably change public perception. VR is a powerful medium for empathy building, allowing the audience to feel what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. We caught up with Catherine Feltham, VR filmmaker at WaterAid, to discuss her work on 360 films and VR experiences for social change and impact.

Raindance: You’ve managed a variety of film projects for charity campaigns and most recently ‘Aftershock’ has been a great success. Could you tell us about the reactions you’ve been receiving?

Catherine: Aftershock is WaterAid’s first project in 360 video and it’s been a pretty exciting journey!  We are still in the rollout phase with the project and are constantly learning from it. Before we set out to create Aftershock, which was made in collaboration with HSBC through their eight-year global Water Programme, we felt strongly that we wanted to create a film that would be viewed and ‘experienced’ within a headset rather than online as a 360 film.  Therefore our campaign is all about giving people the opportunity to experience the film and our work, whether it be in their own living room using a free Aftershock cardboard headset, or at an event or festival where we’ve installed Samsung Gear VR headsets.

We worked hard at creating an experience that was playing to the strengths of the medium from the outset and this has paid off in the reactions we’re getting to the film.  For example, by using methods like eye contact to give the viewer intimate connection with Krishna, our central character at the start of the film, people have responded with comments like “very impressive, immersive and brings you right into the community.”

By experimenting with perspective and point of view we attempted to increase the audience’s understanding of particular situations, for example, by placing them at the centre of a community meeting or looking down steep paths that women have to carry water up to get it to their homes. By doing so we have gained empathy from our audience and been able to provide them with insight into what it might be like to be in the shoes of someone else.

“Watching the women bring the water up the hill was my favourite scene. It really showed the tricky terrain and the challenges to get the water to where it is needed.”

By giving the viewer access to an environment they have most likely not experienced themselves (a community damaged in devastating earthquakes) and letting them learn about a story behind the headlines of such a disaster, we have been able to demonstrate how progress is taking place in communities like Kharelthok and also showcase WaterAid’s approach of working in partnership – from local partners and communities to the organisations that fund our work. Through the HSBC Water Programme, we have reached more than 1.6 million people with safe water and 2.5 million people with sanitation over the last five years. The Programme also provided vital support to our long-term earthquake recovery efforts in Nepal.

“A key takeaway for me was that it’s possible to create change, and that working with communities is key.”

One of the most rewarding parts of distributing Aftershock has been seeing its ability to connect with such a wide range of audiences. We’ve managed to engage with all of WaterAid’s target audience segments, from school children and young people, to digital natives and global citizens to parents, partners, industry and grandparents!  It’s also been interesting to observe how you can hold someone’s attention for nine minutes in a headset, at a time where attention span online is trickier to hold.

We’re excited over the coming months to learn more about the different supporter journeys we can take people on after watching Aftershock.

How efficient has the project been in increasing engagement in contributing to charitable causes?

There’s no doubt that VR and 360 videos have been helping charities and NGOs increase engagement in the issues we’re working to raise awareness of.  The medium allows us to bring our supporters closer to our work than has ever previously been possible as well as offers an exciting way of reaching out to new audiences, perhaps those less traditionally interested in international development or charity.  In addition, it is a really powerful way of communicating with sector professionals, potential partners and donors, and at influential events as we have seen.

“Much more immersive than I imagined. Really brought everything to life in a way that I didn’t think would be so vivid. Insightful and one of the best ways I’ve seen a sustainability story told.”

The medium also enables an element of participation from those you are filming with which excites me, as it allows communities and partners a greater stake in the storytelling process.  By working closely with Krishna on how to tell his story viewers have commented on the authenticity they feel from hearing him tell the story and seeing candid moments like when he’s at the shop with friends, for example.

I think the challenge now is in understanding how to create suitable supporter journeys for audiences of VR and also being able to continue to excite and inform new audiences once you’ve got their attention.  In addition, working with partners like HSBC on projects like this creates huge opportunity for reaching wider audiences. We look forward to working more with them this year on this project.

What are the next projects you would like to work on in 2017?

That’s a tough one! I’d love to see some strong examples of AR being used for storytelling in 2017.  It feels like it’s been a bit of a buzz term for a little while without many examples behind it so I’ll be watching that space.

In terms of VR, WaterAid has committed to continuing to promote Aftershock for the majority of this year as we’ve noticed that these experiences have a much longer shelf life than a typical film as they can be used with so many different audiences and for a range of reasons.  The film can be used to specifically talk about our work in Nepal, or more broadly to introduce someone new to WaterAid and our approach.  We want to ensure that as this is our first project we really get the most back from it and test it in different ways before diving into another big production so that we can take our learnings from the project and apply them to any future VR/360 projects on this scale. That being said I think there are some exciting quick turnaround content opportunities with the Samsung Gear 360 camera I’m keen to explore, as well as the more interactive elements with the new controller for the Gear VR.

Join Catherine for our Raindance VR Masterclass on Monday, May 22 to learn more about crafting VR experiences for social change and impact. Reserve your spot here

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Raindance

iAnimal: Virtual Immersion Into the Reality of Factory Farming

By Dr Toni Shephard, Executive Director (UK), Animal Equality

Paul McCartney once famously said ‘If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we would all be vegetarians’… but of course they don’t, and most people remain unaware of the lives and deaths of animals raised for food. But now all that has changed with Animal Equality – a leading international animal protection charity – transporting people inside factory farms and slaughterhouses via virtual reality technology.

In 2016 we launched our iAnimal virtual reality project with the film ’Through the eyes of a pig’. It took 18 months to produce and features footage from inside pig farms in the UK, Germany and Italy as well as a slaughterhouse in Spain. In all of these countries, and most of the western world, the majority of pigs killed for meat are intensively reared inside barren, filthy factory farm sheds with breeding sows confined to tiny farrowing crates for weeks at a time when they give birth—a sight that moved Downton Abbey actor, Peter Egan to tears as he narrated the film.

“I have never seen anything as shocking as this in my life. It’s devastating, and completely inhumane. Virtual reality enabled me to experience, close up, for just a few minutes, the horror of the short lives of factory farmed animals, to see what they see, to get a real sense of how they live. It has shocked me deeply, and it has strengthened my resolve to help them.” –  Peter Egan, Downton Abbey Actor

The practices that take place inside factory farms and slaughterhouses are deliberately kept hidden from the public. Animal Equality believes people have the right to know what happens in modern farms and slaughterhouses so that consumers can make informed decisions about the food they buy. Now, through our cutting-edge iAnimal project, we can open up these secretive, sinister worlds and allow everyone to experience first hand how farmed animals live – and die.

Through the lenses of the virtual reality headset, viewers feel that they are inside the farm and slaughterhouse, trapped alongside all the other animals, and sharing their fate. You stand next to a mother pig while she gives birth for the sixth time to piglets who will soon be taken away from her. You experience the extreme confinement of the farrowing crates. You witness the daily suffering that takes place inside a pig farm. You are right there when they take their last breath.

Our second film, 42 Days, immerses viewers in the lives of the most abused animals on the planet – factory farmed chickens. From the crowding and suffering inside vast chicken sheds, to hanging on a conveyor as you approach the slaughterman’s knife, this powerful film puts viewers in the place of the chicken, allowing you to see life – and death – through their eyes. Amanda Abbington, star of Sherlock and Mr Selfridge, was so horrified when she narrated the film that she threw down a challenge – ‘You should watch this before you eat meat, because I don’t think you would eat it.’

Having personally filmed inside countless factory farms, I have always felt that if I could only take people there – into the farms – so they can see how animals are treated like mere machines, they would stop eating them. Virtual reality has now made this possible and we are bringing this experience to as many people as we can. It is changing, and saving, lives.

Over the past 14 months, we have toured the country with iAnimal, visiting university campuses and high streets where more than 30,000 people have dared to put on a VR headset and enter the world of farmed animals. iAnimal is also available to everyone on www.iAnimal.uk where you can watch the 360° film and take a virtual tour. Do you dare to watch it and see what the meat industry is hiding from you?

Join Toni for our Raindance VR Masterclass on Monday, May 22 to learn more about crafting VR experiences for social change and impact. Reserve your spot here

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Raindance

Step inside an artist’s painting with virtual reality

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Virtual reality artist Teek Mach takes you into her beautiful 3D paintings. Experience a world that can only come to life in VR.

After digging into this video, fly your own jetpack and take to the skies. Go on a VR journey in the latest episode of ‘The Possible’ by downloading the app here. Read more…

More about Arts Culture And Entertainment, Teek Mach, Painting, Vr, and Tech
Mashable

Microsoft HoloLens delivers first ever augmented reality Easter Egg hunt

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Easter Sunday is just hours away, and since it’s 2017, and we’re apparently living in the future, Microsoft has unveiled the first ever augmented reality Easter Egg hunt. 

The game was unveiled this weekend in Los Angeles at the VRLA conference where Microsoft and a team of AR developers allowed me to enter a surrealist forest construct where holographic eggs could be found using the HoloLens headset. 

While the rest of the world can only see the physical environment of the forest room space, using the HoloLens I was immediately presented with a living landscape, filled with the sounds of birds, animated flowers and rabbits furtively scurrying around the space. And when I discovered my first Easter Egg, the egg responded to my gaze by exploding open into a Disney-like flourish of color and sound.  Read more…

More about Augmented Reality, Ar, Microsoft, Hololens, and Easter
Mashable

‘DRIB’: What Happens When Reality and Fiction Collide? [PODCAST]

There is no recipe for making a successful doc/fiction hybrid. In fact, it may be better to throw away any rules at all.

The docu-fiction hybrid genre isn’t necessarily a new thing. In fact, there are some festivals that are entirely devoted to films that blur the line between what is real and what is written. The liberties that filmmakers take in blurring the lines is where the real magic shines through.

Kristoffer Borgli, director of the SXSW standout DRIB and guest on today’s episode of the No Film School Podcast, didn’t realize the full potential of the genre until he was halfway through making his film. He always knew he wanted to screw around with his audience, but to what extent?

DRIB is the true story of performance artist Amir Asgharnejad, a man who amassed a following through fake fight videos he posted on the internet. For Asgharnejad, it was never about getting famous; it was all just a joke. But it seems the joke was lost on an LA-based energy drink company who decided Amir would be the face of their new brand.

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No Film School

The reality of quote-unquote health insurance

Small business owners are often lionized by politicians as job creators. Innovators. Real Americans.

I don’t usually think of myself as a small business owner, but that’s what I am. My company (Quote-Unquote Apps) makes software for Mac and iOS. I oversee three full-time employees.

After salaries, health insurance is our single biggest expense. It costs more than the servers. It costs more than the App Store’s 30% cut. It’s a lot.

In fact, most months, the amount we pay for health insurance is the difference between our being borderline profitable and genuinely profitable.

An outside consultant might look at our books and say, “Man, you need to do something about those costs.”

They’d be correct.

The way health insurance works in the U.S. is maddening and unsustainable, both for individuals and small businesses.

The way it is now

I have two very different experiences with health insurance.

As a screenwriter, I get my insurance through the Writers Guild. It’s considered a “Cadillac” plan, which seems an appropriate moniker: pretty nice, but not something I would necessarily pick out myself. I don’t pay for it directly. When a studio hires me to write something, they are required to kick a percentage of that fee into the health fund.

So while I’m on my union plan, Quote-Unquote’s health insurance covers my three full-time employees: a designer, a coder, and my assistant.

I honestly don’t know the laws about whether a company our size is required to pay for health insurance. But as a practical matter, I can’t imagine having an uninsured full-time employee.

They’re not just co-workers; they’re nearly family. I care about their safety and well-being. If a medical crisis were to befall one of them, I’d feel morally compelled to help them pay the bills, just as I would for a sibling.1

So they definitely need health insurance. It’s not a question of whether, but how.

We originally had a small company plan, but with the dawn of the Affordable Care Act, it made more sense for employees to pick their own plans on the exchanges.

This shift came with some pros and cons:

PROS:
– The plans are slightly cheaper, mostly because the employees are fairly young.
– The plans are portable. When they stop working for me, they can keep their plans.

CONS:
– Employees have to research plans every year.
– Reimbursing employees for health insurance counts as taxable income.

Bring-your-own-insurance has given employees more choices and more responsibility, but I’m not convinced it’s a better experience overall. Because here’s the thing:

You shouldn’t have to think much about health insurance.

With my Writers Guild plan, I don’t have any choices. There’s no better or worse WGA insurance. It just is. As a union, we can negotiate on coverage and co-pays, but it’s not up to me as an individual to tailor a plan. I can make decisions about whether to see a doctor who is inside or outside the network, but that’s about it.

For my employees buying through the exchange, there’s no limit to the time they can expend comparing plans and choices.

While the ACA requires insurance companies to offer similar plans, there are always factors beyond the checklists. Some companies have better reputations. Others have larger networks. Every choice has trade-offs, and each employee has to decide what makes the most sense.

But the choice itself has a cost, too. It’s time you’re not spending doing your job. It’s mental energy burned and frustration and worry. It’s a tax on productivity.

The way it’s headed

Defending the GOP’s new American Health Care Act, Paul Ryan argues that his plan “is about giving people more choices and better access to a plan they want and can afford.”

For the poor, the gap betwen a plan they want and can afford seems to be alarmingly vast.

But even for better-off Americans like my employees, Ryan fundamentally misunderstands the reality of getting health insurance.

People don’t want “more choices.” The problem isn’t a lack of choices. It’s a lack of affordable quality health care.

People don’t want “better access to a plan.” They want better access to health care.

“More choices” is the kind of markets-fix-everything logic you hear from people who are already on Congress’s Cadillac plan. Paul Ryan doesn’t have to pick health insurance on the market. Like my WGA insurance, his simply comes with his job.

I don’t know whether the GOP’s plan or something like it will pass. It’s obviously flawed and widely despised, yet that seems to be the hot new trend these days.

As a small business owner, I’m determined to keep my employees covered with health insurance one way or another. Still, I’m convinced that we’re doing it wrong as a nation.

Health care shouldn’t be tied to your job at all. Whether you’re a screenwriter, a Congressman or a preschool teacher, your employer should be paying your salary, not determining which doctors you’re allowed to see. Our current system is a relic of an older age. We’re an aberration among world economies.

As both an employer and an American, I don’t want more choices, more freedom, more flexibility in health insurance. I want health care. I want there to be one imperfect plan that simply works, and to hold our elected officials responsible for its continual improvement.

  1. Paul Ryan would probably say that this is paternalistic, which is a way of dismissing guilt when it’s inconvenient.

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