September 18, 2012
Film Festival Season! Distribution & Campaign Stories...
By Katherine Dodds
BE PART OF THE STORY. SO THE STORIES GET TOLD.
Once upon a time, when we were working with Velcrow Ripper to launch Scared Sacred (The first film of his trilogy which is being completed by the new release of Occupy Love), the tag line 'Be part of the story, so the stories get told' emerged in our mass email template for Hello Cool World - it's still there for those of you that are on any of our 'lists'. It proved to be prophetic, as the entire marketing world has not only cottoned on to 'story telling' as the hot new buzzword (oh but it's actually ancient) for all the cool young campaigns.
But it's true, story has a power that moves people more than moralizing or rational arguments alone. But when a story well told, with emotional appeal, is backed up with both compelling facts and a call to action - it's heart, mind, and world changing. And of course this is what the best of documentaries do with the added audio visual vocabulary to bring to the proverbial table.
Which is why we've taken a documentary storytelling (and discovery) approach to all our projects, even the ad campaigns!
I INTERRUPT THIS BLOG TO SHAMELESSLY PROMOTE FOUR FINE FILMS COMING TO VIFF!
(Listed here in screening order.) I've already got my tickets to the following films, made by fine filmmakers who are friends and colleagues. If you are in Vancouver get your tickets now!
1. The Last White Knight • Dir. Paul Saltzman (Prom Night in Mississippi) • Premieres Sept 29, 8:45pm Empire Granville 4
2. Occupy Love • Dir. Velcrow Ripper (Scared Sacred, Fierce Light) • Premieres Oct 4, 9pm Empire Granville 1
3. Shadows of Liberty • Dir. Jean-Philippe Tremblay • Premieres Oct 5, 3:20 p, Empire Granville 5
4. Blood Relative• Dir. Nimisha Mukerji (65_RedRoses) • Premieres Oct 6, 6:45pm Empire Granville 2
Our ongoing work on The Corporation has been a calling card, but that project is by no means over for me. I am still balancing my desire to truly have an impact on the corporate form itself, and to build a movement out of the consistently growing numbers of supporters who contact us. As happens at this time every year I have had a lot of filmmakers who are also fans of The Corporation inquiring about working with us.
This blog began as a letter to one of these filmmakers, and as it turned into a manifesto of sorts I decided to blog-i-fy it for all to read. This season, this contemplation is being tempered with the need to create a real live business plan for growth as part of the VanCity Women Entrepreneurs program I was accepted into. Currently, I am getting support to work on this growth plan and will be give the opportunity to pitch it to potential lenders and investors.
As happens every time more filmmakers want us to take on their projects I do a lot of soul searching about what exactly we did for films before, and what I can realistically do for them. I've been backward engineering the successes and challenges fo the work with The Corporation...
The Corporation has been a project now for me, for over a decade. I was involved with The Corporation before it was even in production, and my role was far more than that of someone brought in after the fact. My roles were as producer and creative director of the website, and Creative director for the branding (we created the signature logo) plus "Director of Corporate Communication" - an ironic title reflective of my role not as a publicist but as the producer/director of the entire grassroots outreach.
All efforts were centred around having the website as our communications hub and tool. With Mark Achbar's help I raised 100K for the website and leveraged 100K more from distribtuors in four countries, who collectively spent a million in advertising all directing traffic to our website, which continues to have a significant amount of traffic ten years later. In essence, a campaign needs to be produced and directed, and the resources required, as well as the timeline are much the same as making a film!
The reason I continue to work on The Corporation, which is no longer a 'fees for service' contract is threefold:
1) My long term goal is to make some kind of difference in the corporate form, i.e. a measurable impact, not just a popular film, I need resources for this but I'm not done with it yet
2) It has the potential to build tools and to leverage support and communities to help other like-minded filmmakers do the same thing
3) We have the opportunity to generate long tail profits from our online store and 'fairer trade' distribution that we can put back into campaigns
The throughline of all our projects, not only the film related ones, has been our own website system, so my biz plan pitch will likely include seeking support to re-build this as an open source platform for us to use with our clients and to share with the community.
The vision is for better functionality and more social media linking in addition to the join us email list function. Why? Because I want to actually build a network, supported by a system that is robust enough for international mobilizing, and I want to rebuild and engage the supporter base for The Corporation (and its' issues) with every new project we take on, but in a way that is sustainable.
Specifically, enabling us to offer modules that are good for campaigning, distribution and e-commerce to our clients at much less cost than developing that level of functionality for one single project. In addition, it is my goal to grow The Corporation brand in order to support more films/projects. The idea would be to ask partners to contribute to the overall planning of this new site/system and pay for licensing it's use later at a scale appropriate to their investment, enabling us to customize it precisely to meet the needs of a campaigning filmmaker, and to use this model to offer to others.
The magic juggling act is at every stage to have technology, content and outreach constantly in play and in support of each other. So, for me to get involved in a film project requires the following:
1) I have to love the film enough to be willing to talk about it a decade from now, and it needs to be a fit with The Corporation 'brand' and the opportunity to share audiences (i.e. list building)
2) There have to be enough resources to meet the needs of a year-long campaign attached to the film if the outreach is a success. A sucessful campaign means more work! To this end thinking about potential external support to be leveraged to raise at least 200K has to happen at the early stages, and requires much external resources added to that. I.e. we worked with distributors who spend collectively a million in advertising in that first year, all of which drove traffic to our site. This funding could come in phases, but there has to be a desire and a vision for a longer term campaign for me to invest time and to help leverage more money
3) The filmmaker must be ready to dedicate themselves to this process with the same commitment I would bring to it as this is what it does take to do this work, and I could not have done what I did for The Corporation without Mark's support, or indeed any film we've worked with
4) I would need a degree of control over strategy and implementation so that in the thick of it I could make decisions and negotiate deals with supporters (obviously in collaboration with the filmmakers desires) but it should be noted that the collaborative process itself requires time and resources
5) There would need to be some possibility of a long tail return on investment that is triple bottom line: makes an impact on a social level, using processes that encourage environmental sustainability, and in terms of the bottom line brings in enough resources to sustain itself over time
What I am working on is a sophisticated alterative to mainstream distribution as it now stands, but is not the same as a one team for one film model. I have an opportunity right now to get some investors on board with this, so this is my number one priority to work on this overall plan. I can't take on anything before I am ready to that will distract me from the bigger vision, so in order for me to work with any filmmakers in the short term, we would have to share my larger goal for the long term.
Tag(s): Hello Cool World
, Film Launch
, The Corporation
, Fair Trade
, Mark Achbar
, Fair Trade DVD Distribution
, The Corporation Film
, Women Entrepreneurs
On December 22, 2012 at 12:18 PM Morena wrote:
You all are BRILLIANT Visual Impact Creativity touches every human etomion and is how to get the message across I have an idea that will get you all a little more world exposure On a different level.How do I reach you? Calling doesn't work
On December 24, 2012 at 03:35 AM Said wrote:
, the film's thesis (as I unedtsrand it) is pretty dead-on. I have worked in corporations large and small, including some of the world's most powerful ones, and at an executive level from which I was afforded a view beyond the cubes and right into the Board room and the CEO's office. And corporations are no different than bake sales, bowling leagues, or church congregations in that they are made up of just plain folks at all levels (yes, even at the executive level) at about the same frequency you'd find in any other assemblage of human beings: a few are very, very good, a few are very, very bad, and the great majority are neither, but are instead just regular folks, a little good, a little bad, mostly neither and just trying to get along/go along.But take that standard distribution of human nature and stir it up in the corporate rendering pot and here I'm talking corporations where big money is in play and the result is almost always pathological. The bad actors will generally rise to the top the sociopaths, the compulsive liars, the @ss-kissers, the amoral. This is so because short-term success is the only thing that is rewarded by shareholders, and thus by the CEO, and thus by the execs, and thus by the managers . And the quickest, surest route to short-term success, throughout all of human history, is to be the biggest SOB on the block. Let's face it: it works. In rare instances you can advance by being smarter, more creative, more insightful than everybody else (I like to think that's how I rose through the ranks, anyway), but there is a distinct glass ceiling to that aapproach. Really smart, really constructive guys are really not welcome at the top, whaich is the SOBs' Club.As a necessary consequence, the organization as a whole takes on an amoral character with a thin moral veneer just enough to keep us out of the paper, not enough to be an inconvenience. In that environment, good people swallow theirmorals every day, because getting fired is scary it is a Little Death for most folks. You have kids to feed, a mortgage to pay; you can't afford to rock the boat. You've signed a bargain with the devil. Only very infrequently do people actually say take this job and shove it . Mostly they keep their heads down and their mouths shut the attitude which has enabled every evil the world has ever known.So, yeah, overall I'd have to agree. It really makes very little (if any) difference how good a person you are. Once you've bought into the systemyour soul pretty much belongs to the system, and it ain't pretty.As for me, earlier this year I finally said I ain't gonna work on Maggie's farm no more. And I couldn't be happier. Re-discovering my moral self is really exciting, and heartening.