Web Exclusives: More


February 7, 2001:
Net effect
Filmmaker James Stanford '98 documents how the Internet influences our culture

By Rob MacKay '89

James Stanford '98, on a roof in New York City, scouts a scene for his film Message in a Bubble, a documentary about Internet entrepreneurs.

For James Stanford '98, the Internet provides a lot more than unlimited access to information. Stanford thinks it has a tremendous influence on culture, too, and he's documenting it. His half-finished film, Message in a Bubble, examines how the World Wide Web has changed business and convinced otherwise sheepish individuals that they can be cyber-entrepreneurs.

"I'm very interested in the Internet's effect on America and how it's reinvigorating the American dream," says Stanford, an English major whose thesis analyzed film adaptations of F. Scott Fitzgerald '17's novel The Great Gatsby. "Because of it, people are taking risks now that they never would have dreamed of taking a few years ago."

Jared Schutz Polis '96, who has so far started seven Internet companies, is shown inside the Miami flower-packing facility for his business Proflowers.com.

Through Folkestone Productions, a company he started, Stanford and associate producer David Nee '98, have shot 65 hours of interviews with 25 different leaders in the Internet industry. Included in the list of talking heads is Jared Polis '96, who started seven Internet companies, such as the financial powerhouses Bluemountain and Stardot Consulting, and parlayed his Web success into a seat on the Colorado Board of Education.

Jay Erickson '98 poses in the office of his Internet solutions startup, Bootstrap Software, in New York City.

Another subject, Jay Erickson '98, discusses how he went from being a plumber and an actor with no certainty of vocation to a super-involved COO of Bootstrap Software (www.bootsoft), a full service Internet solutions company. "When you go from the Stone Age to the Iron Age, you'd better drop your stones and pick up some iron," Erickson says in front of the camera before adding that the Internet allows him to go into meetings with 50-year-old business people and be taken seriously and treated with respect.

Actually, viewers of Message in a Bubble might want to know what's happening with Stanford, an Internet entrepreneur in his own right. When not working on the documentary, the 25-year-old provides companies with brand exposure in new media outlets, i.e. broadband, DVDs, rich content e-mail.

But film is his major interest, and this February, Stanford, who lives in New York City, plans to finish Message in a Bubble by going back and talking with the interviewees again, to see what they're thinking about now - and how they're doing. "With the Internet world as volatile and fast-moving as it is, I'm really looking forward to finding out what has happened to all these characters," says the Fort Wayne, Indiana native. "I certainly hope that they're still there."

Stanford is still seeking capital as he edits and promotes his documentary, he can be reached at jamesstanford@earthlink.net.

Rob MacKay is an editor at a weekly newspaper in Queens called the Timesnewsweekly. He can be reached at robertazo@hotmail.com