A Filmmaker Live Twitters Tribeca All Access

April 22, 2008

Full Disclosure: Double 7 Film is a client of mine.

I’ve convinced a busy Director and Writer to try Twitter .  I don’t usually bring my client work over to my blog, but I’m really excited about Pete Chatmon’s willingness to embrace the idea of reaching out directly to fans through a variety of Web tools, including Twitter.

Pete’s production company is in the midst of retooling their online presence, to include a total redesign of the corporate website and an expansion of their presence on YouTube (in addition to writing and directing feature films, Pete also directs music videos ). 

Pete has a lot of irons in the fire.  He’s in development on his next feature, he’s writing a couple screenplays, and preparing some commercial shoots.  However, he’s dedicated to the idea of finding new ways to connect with movie fans.  He understands the power of interaction and wants to join the conversation. 

He’s an invited participant in Tribeca All Access, and plans to live twitter his experience there today.

This should be an interesting experience and opportunity to get behind-the-scenes with a filmmaker. Check it out.


How NOT to publicize your film on YouTube

April 15, 2008

Running a successful viral video campaign for a film can be tricky and complicated.  It requires a lot of upfront planning and the implementation of the campaign requires careful management.  Screw up, and lots of things could go wrong: no one will watch it, or maybe, if you’re really unlucky, tons of people will watch it but not understand it, resulting in your film being yanked from the festival in which it was supposed to debut, people you don’t know will send you threatening e-mails, and you’ll have the local police and the FBI on your tail.

The latter is exactly what happened to Outsiders Productions, an Oklahoma-based indie film studio, when they tried to use the “Cloverfield” approach by loading a mysterious and ominous-looking video clip onto YouTube for their latest film A Beautiful Day. The teaser freaked people out in Oklahoma, who thought it might be some kind of cryptic terrorist threat. Things quickly spiraled out of control from there.

The main problem with the video? It made no mention of the movie! The filmmakers have now been spending time explaining themselves and apologizing.  They’re also trying to find some way of turning this fiasco into something positive with their “It’s Just a Trailer” campaign.  It’ll be interesting to see how that works out.

This is a cautionary tale that teaches an important lesson in viral video publicity campaigns. Yes, the results were that the film got some publicity, but I’d bet not quite the kind of publicity the filmmakers were hoping for.

Obama Girl: Can the buzz from one viral video shape a national election?

March 5, 2008

I’ve written often about generating buzz for film through viral awareness, incorporating viral video into publicity campaigns, deploying embed-and-spread to find, build, and engage an audience.  When it’s done well, it’s very successful. We’ve all seen plenty of examples.

barelypolitical.jpgWho would have guessed viral awareness tools would sweep into our country’s political process as well?  Certainly, not much in the 2004 elections would have indicated viral video’s power in the political arena. What? Buzz around a satirical YouTube music video of a sexy undulating young woman could possibly figure into something as sober as the decision-making process of American voters in deciding the next President of the United States??

 Who knew?

And yet, it seems that’s exactly what has happened in 2007-2008.  While following Barack Obama’s campaign progress, one thing that struck me is the number of younger supporters he’s gathered.  I thought about what would make him seem attractive to that particular demographic.  I’m sure there are lots of things.  Obama has one thing, however, that the other candidates don’t.  There’s a pop culture phenomenon associated with him that remains unique to this one particular candidate. 

Obama Girl.

Am I crazy for even entertaining the notion that one viral video could have such an impact on voter preferences?  Read the rest of this entry »

Your film discovered in an AWESOME new festival

February 9, 2008

I occasionally volunteer my services to a film-related activity (seminar, educational article, festival, charity benefit).  I don’t volunteer very often.  I don’t have much free time on my hands, and frankly, I’m discriminating about which projects I want to support.   They have to fit with my own desire to advocate and publicize quality films, to educate filmmakers about publicity and promotion in the era of social media and social networking, and to support the art.  They’ve got to be something really special.

I’ve recently signed on to support something very special.  Actually, a better word for it is ‘awesome’.  Founded by DIY filmmaking pioneers Lance Weiler (The Last Broadcast, Head Trauma), Arin Crumley (Four Eyed Monsters) and M dot Strange (We Are The Strange), From Here to Awesome – a discovery and distribution film festival is the first of its kind, and if you’re a filmmaker it just might be the perfect system to get your film blasted to audiences in theaters, living rooms, online and via mobile phones.


Read the rest of this entry »

WGA Strikes for Slice of Internet Pie, Uses Internet Publicity

November 11, 2007

This has to be one of the most ironic of ironies, right?  The WGA is striking the AMPTP about Internet residuals, among other things, and are doing an excellent job of using the Internet to support their efforts.   You’ve got to admit, no matter which side of the picket line you may find yourself supporting, that the writers are winning when it comes to using the Web for publicity. 

There are a number of great blogs covering the strike, including Variety’s Scribe Vibe. The standout, however, is the unofficial United Hollywood blog, formed by a group of WGAUnited Hollywood Blog’s Badge strike captains.   In addition to posts and open letters by various WGA members, they share messages and pictures they receive from fans.  They’ve got badges, like the one seen here, for supporters to place on their websites, and a ton of links to other related sites, including a site called Strike Swag that is selling solidarity bracelets and tees, and even mentions plans for a men’s bikini brief (lord, please end the strike before it comes to that!).

And then there’s the WGA’s video coverage on YouTube. wgaamerica is posting daily videos of strike activity and getting lots of viewers.  Even Ask the Ninja has joined in the conversation, in his own unique way.

The writers clearly understand the power of the InteAMPTP logornet to promote their product — in this case, their position and the fight for their livelihood — to the public.   

I’ve been looking for a similar Web publicity blitz  from the AMPTP’s point of view. My search results haven’t turned up much.  The official AMPTP’s website has put up a FAQ to address questions related to the strike, and they do appear to update their “breaking news” section to state their position, but that doesn’t pack the same publicity punch.  I haven’t been able to find any good pro-AMPTP blogs.  If anyone knows of  some, please post the links in comments.  It strikes (no pun intended) me very odd that the AMPTP hasn’t taken their position on the argument over residuals for digital downloads, pay-per-view, and Internet streaming, publicly, to the source, and to their ultimate audience — on the Internet.

It begs the question:  who has a better understanding of the value and reach, not to mention the potential revenue, of the Internet?

A little ad in your viral video: YouTube’s new model

August 22, 2007

Online Media Daily reports that YouTube is now running semi-transparent ads as overlays and/or rich media animations  on professional and user-generated videos.

It’ll be interesting to see how YouTube users react to this. Would a Joe from Ohio wonder why he’s not getting a slice of the branding revenue when he realizes there’s an ad overlay playing concurrently on his popular video of his break-dancing dog?

In any case, it’s another sign of the times: publicity and marketing focus continues to shift and adapt to the world of Web 2.0.

DIY Distribution

July 28, 2007

I suppose the DIY royal couple right now is Arin Crumley and Susan Buice.  It’s safe to say they’ve broken some new ground on innovative DIY distribution of their film, Four-eyed Monsters.

Talk about embracing Web 2.0. These two seem to live and breathe it, and in the process, have not only racked up some significant credit card debt (you can help ease their pain by registering free at www.spout.com/foureyedmonsters, Spout pays them a dollar for every new registration), they’ve done the heretofore unthinkable — put their entire film up on YouTube for everyone to watch — for free.

Turns out, showing the film for free, along with the partnership with Spout, may be the most profitable thing they’ve done, according to Arin in his interview with Cinematical indie. Check it out, it’s an enlightening interview, you can read the transcript or watch a video version of it from Arin’s pov. You may learn something new, like I did: a new online distribution company, b-side. I looked around their site, read the FAQs, etc. What I liked most about them is (1) their pricing structure: you can purchase a download of a film and watch it to see if you think it’s worth buying the DVD, and the cost of your download gets credit as a downpayment to DVD, and (2) all their downloads are DRM-free. Sweet! I don’t know that their distribution agreement and deal is any better or worse than any other out there, but I think they’re worth checking out.
Tip: There are options for DIY Distribution.
Talk: Are you self-distributing your film? Post a link to your film, trailer, or other info, and I’ll feature it in a future post.