Category Archives: Distribution

The Three Cardinal Sins of Corporate Video pt2 – Audience

AudienceTell me the odd one out: Theatre….Film….TV

OK, enough fake suspense – TV is the odd one out, and let me explain why.

Simply put, you ‘go to’ the movies or ‘go to’ the theatre. You arrive at a venue, you pay for your seat and you are entertained (hopefully). But you as a viewer have no control over the entertainment experience you receive. You’re a captive audience sailing along on a narrative over which you have no control.

TV is totally different. The TV is the guest in the corner of your room. The programmes and adverts dance to your tune and if you don’t like the dance…the remote control exacts your channel-changing revenge.

Once you realise this it’s easy to see where online video or programming over internet (YouTube, NetFlix, Vimeo, BBC iPlayer, Roku etc) fits in. [It’s like TV not the cinema]. You’ll probably already see the significance, but indulge me.

As a filmmaker (making a film for the cinema) I can take my time telling you my story. It’s not uncommon for the opening sequences of feature films to be minutes long with little or no dialogue to speak of. TV is much more immediate, more fast paced – and yet it’s a slow cousin to the Internet and online video.

The Second Sin – YouTube will Love Me.

YouTube-Is-Testing-a-New-Video-Player-478321-2I recently attended a meeting with a large company in the City (London), their marketing person was an ex-film school student. As I’d worked in Hollywood for a number of years, she was very keen to get my opinion on the companies latest 4 minute video. But we’ll come back to this in a moment.

It’s estimated that you have between 3 and 8 seconds to engage a viewer on the web. After that…they’re looking for the next item on the playlist. This has a marked effect on the way you create your online videos, the style you adopt and the way you showcase your wares. If you hack together a video then throw it towards YouTube, hoping for it to ‘go viral’ (AKA ‘post and pray’) then chances are, you’ll be diasppointed.

So, unsurprisingly, the aforementioned 4 minute YouTube video, with a 30 second opening sequence featuring empty rooms, wasn’t working (who knew, right?). The ex-film student couldn’t see why, because the video was “so beautifully shot”. Perhaps so, but sadly, the audience wouldn’t hang around for 4 minutes to find out the films’ cinematic denouement. The video was akin to bringing a knife to a gun-fight.

A video for an online audience needs to be designed, constructed and shot differently. The video must look good on all types of mobile devices – tiny images will not show up well on a 4 inch iPhone screen. Please remember, Video is not a bill – it is an investment.  Furthermore, once the video is made you also need to consider the videos’ title carefully, as well as the tags and online description. It’s also worth asking if the static video is better presented as a streamed event or Google Hangouts style webinar. All of these factors will decide if people will spare you the time to watch.

Even after all this work, you’ll probably get it wrong first time. We do and I know the big companies do too. So, if you are using a video company that offers a cast iron guarantee of a ‘viral video’ – then my VW really does do 85 miles per gallon.

Online is a brilliant way to distribute your corporate video and promote your company, but online is now a defined marketplace in itself. It has it’s own ever-shifting rules, styles and trends. That’s why you need a strategy for the videos you create and a clear plan of how you will actively use them.

Join me next time for the last of these three articles, where I’ll be looking at the third cardinal sin ‘Bad Language’.

As always I’m happy to hear from readers, with comments or stories.

Contact me direct on marktodd@guvnormedia.com or @theguvnoruk

Visit our websites at: http://www.guvnormedia.com and http://www.guvnormedia.co.uk

Written by Mark Alexander Todd

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Bad Reception Movie Reviews

DVDFullWrapCoverTemplateIt’s been over six years now since I took the plunge to go to LA and direct my first movie. Had I known at the time, the heartache and turmoil, the potential law suits and financial impact the film would bring…I still would have done it anyway. Wouldn’t we all?

Dante’s Criterion (later renamed to Bad Reception) was a film born out of mysterious circumstances. Having raised $18,000 to make a film, on the (then) new HD 1080i format, our over confident and under talented writer demanded $46,000 and a WGA contract for his script.

 

Oddly, we decided not to go this route which was, believe it or not, a shock to the ‘writer’. Bet he didn’t see that in his story arc?

So having a budget but no film, I was tasked with the job of writing a horror movie in 6 weeks. Horror is not my genre but 6 weeks later, script 5A was ready to roll.  I won’t delve into the production because it would be a very long posting and if you’ve made a movie you’ve heard it all before. The precis being “Oh woe is me, but we managed it anyway, huraah”

Since then my last wife and I had to endure the joys of delinquent producers, law suits, contract disputes, failed film screenings and numerous distribution let downs in order to get the film out on the market. Shami Media of New York (our distributor) seem like a decent bunch of people and have got the movie out there and getting noticed. Thank you to them. But, after all this time, money and a learning curve that would make Sisyphus weep, what impact has my hollywood movie made? Well, mixed.

sisyphus

In this one I am the next Roger Corman: http://roguecinema.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=3015

In this: The actors are meh, but we kill them well: http://www.triskaidekafiles.com/journal/2013/10/21/what-im-watching-bad-reception.html

But all this said, my sanity was saved by a few words of wisdom from a friend who isn’t in ‘the business’. He said he’d seen  Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull recently, he wasn’t impressed with that (and he spotted a few mistakes). So, what chance did my little movie stand against the critics?

He is right, but as a person I consider myself a creative. And as all us ‘creatives’ know, the worst critic in the room is always sitting in my chair.

So roll on the next film project,  lessons learnt, I guarantee it will turn a few critical heads and raise a smile.

MAT


Independent Film: In this digital age, is the BFI my BFF?

tumblr_m4wmqiTPZG1qher3go1_500Six months ago, I returned home to the UK from Hollywood. Bank bail-outs, global crises, and an explosion in production technology aside, the landscape of the British film industry had changed in my time away. Screen West Midlands was no more, and many of the old filmmaker online hangouts (with the exception of Shooting People) had also gone by the wayside. Nevertheless, we hit the ground running and began production on our feature length documentary.

Short of Facebook friends, our next stop had to be the ever present British Film Institute. A quick browse around the site yielded an email address…10 minutes later my request for some professional updating was on its way.

Now, at this point, I should say I don’t usually ‘hang’ with institutes and such; I’ve always found, for them, red tape is thicker than water – like the time I was in Cannes celebrating the financing of a feature film project. In a flurry of champagne and French cuisine, I was invited to meet with The Film Council. The next day, I arrived at the spacious suite on the Croisette and was handed a form to request a meeting back in London. I was there, they were there….but the meeting was back in London?  #wtf

Anyway, I digress. Back to my BFF’s at the BFI. As the application deadline passed, thoughts of development funding retreated from my mind, replaced with schedules and logistics. Our promotional series, The Haunted Kingdom, began to attract the attention of the press, and with the failure of the Mayans to predict a simple end to the world, it was Christmas which finally brought an enforced halt to production.

The New Year brings fresh interviews, a fresh fall of snow and a reply from….the BFI/MEDA [sic] (MEDIA, methinks?). Two and a half months after my original email, I got the reply and the invitation I was waiting for “…Check out our webpages.” OMG. I presume the address is: http://www.wedontgiveacrap.com.

Ignoring the obvious points: a) I couldn’t have contacted them without getting the email address from the website, and b) timewise, my BFF’s email took longer to write than the New Testament, I have to ask myself:

Are entities like the BFI redundant in today’s digital film and media landscape?

Personal annoyance aside, I would genuinely like to pose the question and open the debate.  Let’s look at the areas these types of foundation/quango/whatever purport to support: #poetanddontknowit

Development
If you are a writer, you write. If you are a producer, you produce. Creativity is an itch which always needs to be scratched. It doesn’t stop when the money dries up. Giving development money to people who need encouragement to create is promoting the wrong sort of people to be “in the business.” Proactive writers and filmmakers are often penalised for getting on with it, so…tell me again how this is helping British filmmakers?

Funding

The BFI has announced its Vision Awards for 2013-2015, but the entry criteria for production funding is too high for anyone except established companies. Arguably, filmmakers are much better off spending their time and efforts raising money with Kickstarter or other crowd funding options.

Distribution

You will struggle to find anything on the Film Council/BFI or other websites that would help regular filmmakers to get their film out there. Most smaller filmmakers struggle to get any distribution and don’t have the tens of thousands of pounds to support their own P&A campaign. So, again, an online distribution or streaming solution is a clear winner.

SO?

Well, let’s take a moment to look at a few factors affecting filmmakers today:

So, a dedicated filmmaker can: raise money for a project via suitable crowd funding; produce a feature length project in an HD format; cut the project on a relatively inexpensive edit solution; then distribute it online. All without involving a funding body, studio or production company.

🙂

Now, aside from the issue of filmmaker’s objectivity and the quality control that comes with third party eyes viewing a creative project, there is that point again…Who are my BFF’s really helping?

The Vision Awards help companies with a “fiction, documentary or animation feature film that has been distributed theatrically in the UK.” That eliminates 99.9% of all filmmakers in the UK, for the reasons I mentioned above. So, this helping filmmakers guise is actually a none too subtle disguise to subsidise companies already in a position to make films. Unlike.

Banks are always criticised for only lending money to people who don’t really need a loan. But is this any different? This is government money used to subsidise film companies who already have the means to make films. If that’s the case, wouldn’t a more honest approach be to introduce better tax incentives for ALL companies making films, and re-allocate BFI/Lottery hard cash to prop up organisations like the CAB, who actually need help and are in a funding crisis? Like.

I don’t mean to sound like a rabble rouser, but it irks me when people claim they help but actually don’t. That’s why I love Ronseal — “It does exactly what is says on the tin.”

But back to my original point: why does this matter? Well, it doesn’t. If filmmakers can produce their own quality digital material and distribute it, then these types of elusive BFF’s aren’t needed.  Unfriend.

Talent floats, and realistically, there is no filmmakers’ lifeboat. But the digital age gives us literal safety in numbers, and these ones and zeros do help creative, informed people. All we need now is a way to connect all those disparate people…Oh hang on, isn’t that called the Interweb?

Mark Alexander Todd is a working writer/director located in the West Midlands.

More details about the projects he’s involved in can be found on his company

website, GuvnorMedia.co.uk.


Coffee Time Interviews

In Mi quest to provide some reliable information on the practices of film making & production, I’ve begun a series of interviews with professionals who should know better – and do!

The simple premiss of all the interviews is a short interview over a cup of coffee.  I’m looking to get the word from the”horses mouth“, from the people we’ll (hopefully) be working with on the long road from finishing our scripts to the Q&A at our screenings. I’ll be editing the interviews for length and time but not content. So, what you hear will be the unabridged views and tips from the interviewees.

The first interview is with Graeme Chapman, co-founder of ’boutique’ film distributor FilmWorks Entertainment.  Based out of Los Angeles, Graeme and his business partner Heidi Meier have been steadily growing the business for the past three years, releasing one to two films per month worldwide, across all platforms.

 

As a fellow Brit, Graeme and I had a lot to talk about, so there will be three parts to the interview – one each month in August, September and October.

Join me for the first part of the interview on August 15th.

The Guvnor


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