Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"I Don't Teach History, I Make Historians"

I get a lot of requests regarding my teaching philosophy. As a graduate student, we were told to develop a philosophy regarding ourselves and how we planned to teach. Naturally, as a good grad student I thought the answer could be found by researching so I read A LOT of teaching philosophies from other masters and PhD recipients. All of them sounded the same. It wasn't until I actually began to teach in higher education that I realized what my teaching philosophy was...

"I don't teach history. I make historians."

When people think of history teachers they think of someone trying to get them to memorize dates, battles, and names. I like to think I make historians. Now, I don't expect everyone that takes my class to change their major to history but I inspire my students to think about history. I encourage them to consider what causes historical events to happen, what legacy it left, and how those events are similar to things taking place in our modern world. In my course, you will learn to look at history not as something that happened an eternity ago but how it affects us to this day.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Reputation is all we have (or "Personal Branding" as it's called now)

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my personal brand. For the longest time my brand was Source Point Press (a publishing company I co-founded with Joshua Werner). I channeled all my energy for the last four years into promoting SPP. Now that I’m a paid writer and college professor, I feel the need to promote my personal brand (to get more writing and professor jobs).

At first, I wasn’t sure how to do this. I’ve never been that good at social media and every article seems to say that tweeting, posting and followers are the only way to get your name out there. Then, I thought about my career as an automotive professional. I was never hired because I had thousands of followers or because I tweeted every five minutes. Not only have I never had to worry about finding employment but usually I have been recruited because of my reputation in the industry (what nowadays they call “personal branding”). How did I come to be recognized as a “great parts guy” in the automotive industry? Well, I spent years making connections through various positions in the field and I attended industry conferences. Also, at every position I made sure I was their “go to” guy that could track down the hard to find parts and the parts were right the first time.

The connections I made through meeting and working with people were real. I wasn’t just a profile on a list of their thousands of followers. How do I transfer my personal brand into not one, but two other industries? Basically, I’ll just repeat the process. I love discussing and learning more about history so attending museums, conferences and lectures is right up my alley. I can use these opportunities to meet other historians and professors. Slowly through attending these events and giving presentations of my own I can build up my reputation as a well-researched and versatile historian. I have already begun building up my reputation as a dedicated instructor at the university where I’ve been teaching so hopefully that will lead to being offered more classes and knowing more people in the industry.

Naturally, I’m still going to share interesting articles on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and my blog here but I can see that the real networking and reputation building is built in person.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

UFO: The Otis Files World Premiere

Now that I've recovered from the premiere of UFO: The Otis Files I figured I would post my thoughts on that amazing night.

First off, WOW! A lot of people showed up for the premiere. The theater was almost full which was awesome because I thought we wouldn't even have come close to filling all those seats. It was amazing to feel all the support from our family, friends, fans and Kickstarter backers. We even had to start the movie a half hour later than scheduled because there was a line to buy tickets and everyone wanted pictures with the actors. Also, I loved seeing how excited the cast and crew were to have a premiere for their movie. They are the greatest group of people I've ever had the pleasure to work with and I'm glad that we got to have such an incredible night.

The movie itself was very well received. The audience really got the humor of the film and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Later on, we had an after party at a nearby Bar & Grille. From what I remember, everyone had a lot of fun.

Here are some photos from the premiere:

Friday, April 28, 2017

Thoughts on Filmmaking (aka "How I stopped Worrying about Sleep and Learned to Love Exhaustion")

UFO: The Otis Files stars David C. Hayes as Otis. Produced by Muted Madness Films and Tyghtrope Media
Some of you may know that recently I dove into the wonderful (and all consuming) world of filmmaking. It has been an incredible yet exhausting process which I'm glad is coming to a close. I've spent the last month or two doing podcast to promote the film, driving out to Lansing, MI to edit with the film's director, Warren Jackson, and stressing out over the Kickstarter being funded.

I've learned a lot about filmmaking from working on this project and a lot about myself as a screenwriter. Having written the script, I thought I might have a hard time letting go of any control I had over what I wrote. Luckily, Warren Jackson is a brilliant director and all the cast members had an amazing understanding of their characters and comedic timing. All the cast and crew enhanced the bare-bones script I had written and fleshed it out to be a truly hilarious film.

During the editing process I discovered that almost anything is possible with Final Cut Pro software. There were so many effects we were able to do during editing that it inspired additional "Otis Vision" daydream sequences that we added to the film to give the audience insight into the mind of Otis.

Mostly, I'm just glad that so many talented people invested their time and skills in making this film as well as the Kickstarter Backers who invested their finances in order for us to have a red carpet film premiere May 6th in Howell, MI at the Howell Historic Theater. I'm overwhelmed that so many people including the cast, crew, and backers believed so much in this film. It wouldn't have happened without all of you.


Trico J. Lutkins

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

We're halfway there! (aka "All Roads Lead to Rome!")

This is my first time ever teaching a college course and it's hard to believe that it's already halfway over. In the last four weeks I've already had so many amazing experiences and had some great challenges. There are some things I will do differently next class but there are many things that turned out very well.

All Roads lead to Rome!
This halfway point also marks the progression from studying Ancient Greece into studying Ancient Rome. Anyone that knows me knows how excited I am about this! I feel that the Romans assimilated the passion for the arts that Athens had along with the military prowess that the Spartans displayed to create one of the most powerful (and certainly the most influential) civilizations of the Ancient World.

The next four weeks of class is going to be incredible!

Fantasticon Lansing this weekend!

I'll be in Lansing this weekend for Fantasticon. I'll have my comics and books with me for sale as well as my latest one-shot comic, Vostokapolis, from Dim Throat Comics!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Teaching in 4th Term.

Well, this is my first assignment teaching and I couldn't have picked a better course. That's right, for my first soiree as a professor I've been given the opportunity to teach Ancient Roman and Greek History. Could life be any better? Anyone that knows me knows I love Roman History so this course is a dream come true. I thought I'd have to teach dozens of survey courses before I was given this cool of a teaching assignment.

The best part is that it's primarily an online university so I have students from several countries in my class. I love seeing how different cultures interpret Ancient Rome and Greece. As products of Western Civilization, we tend to view these two cultures very differently than someone whose culture hasn't been directly influenced by them the way ours has.

The second week of class wrapped up yesterday and it's already proving to be an amazing experience. Also, I've been put on the list to teach this course and Art History next term. I'm looking forward to both.