Top 4 Quasi-B Movies That I Love

After taking a bit of a break for Easter and then getting sidetracked by other work, I’ve come back with a film list I haven’t done before.

I started thinking about some of the films that I love, films that maybe many people don’t talk about anymore or even remember.  Films that may not have the best acting, cinematography or even the best story and yet I love because they are memorable and in some cases, really make me laugh.

Sometimes, you just really need a film that makes you laugh hard enough for it to stick in your mind. These top 4 films aren’t all quite “B Movies” but I think they mostly qualify.

1)Joe’s Apartment

This film is FAR from being Jerry O’Connell’s most memorable piece of work in his filmography. Heck, I’d bet $10 that most people don’t remember this movie even existed and if they did, they’d remark on how Jerry isn’t exactly leading man material. Well, I’d always had a soft spot for Jerry since his Slider days and this film was AWESOME!

What’s not to love about a film that doesn’t take itself seriously and features singing, dancing cockroaches? I just about keel over every time the cockroaches come on screen, every time I watch this movie. Yes, they’re disgusting, yes they trash everything and no one in their right mind would want them as roommates and yet-it’s hilarious.

It not only prepared me for the worms of the Men In Black franchise, I also found out much later that the lead cockroach is the one & only Billy West! Yes, fellow Futurama fans, Fry was a cockroach (I think Professor Farnsworth would agree with that)!

Hilarity Factor: 7/10

2)Amanda and The Alien

Years before I became a fan of Roswell and an ardent fan of the amazingly talented Shiri Appleby, Colin Hanks, Brendan Fehr, Jason Behr & the highly underrated Nick Wechsler, the premise of Roswell or maybe it was more like ET, showed up in a TV movie I’ve only managed to find a few times.

Similar to the premise of Jeff Bridges’ Starman, it starred Nicole Eggert as a lonely Bohemian artist who comes across an attractive alien who must change host bodies every few days. On the run from the government, Amanda agrees to help him hide and they fall in love.

Yes, it had the clinched love story of aliens falling in love with humans and clinched story in general of the aliens living among us.  Yes it was also cheesy as all hell and no, it’s not a movie that ages well to stand the test of time. But somehow, even after all these years, I have a soft spot for it. Maybe it’s because it was the first movie of that type that 8-year old me had ever seen. But regardless, it holds a nostalgic soft spot for me.

Nostalgic Factor: 6/10

3) Embrace of the Vampire

Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been a HUGE fan of vampires and different facets of vampire lore ever since childhood, so long before the God awful Twilight craze started.

I’ve always loved Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles and the related Mayfair Witches, read a ton of other standalone vampire lore books (such as Thirst by Michael Cecilione, with BDSM elements) and been a fan of TV series such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel and Blood Ties (which suffered from being on the WRONG network!) The 1994 film Interview With The Vampire & 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula remain my ULTIMATE two favorite film adaptations of vampire books and the documentary Blood Sucking Cinema is on my top documentaries of all-time list.

Embrace of the Vampire, on the other hand, holds none of this legendary status and yet, still remains memorable to me. It was the first project I’d ever seen Alyssa Milano in for one, as part of her pre-Charmed days. But mostly, I think it was memorable because it was the first film that had a TON of vampire sex. Other films had sexual scenes such as From Dusk to Dawn & Bram Stoker’s Dracula (and later, the much-maligned Queen of the Damned, which I still love) and Interview With The Vampire contained subtle homosexual overtones, but Embrace had full-on heterosexual vampire sex.

This film was anything BUT subtle in that aspect and I think it played into early fantasies I’d had involving immortality, becoming a vampire and yes, even being seduced by one. Of course, the older I got, the more the downside of living such a life (or un-life) as it were, became more apparent through Stuart Townsend’s portrayal of Lestat de Lioncourt in the aforementioned Queen of the Damned and how Angel turned back into Angelus in the Buffy universe, but it’s still a fantasy I entertain from time to time.

Sexy Factor: 7/10

4) Kangaroo Jack

OK, so this film isn’t a B-movie by any stretch, more of a bigger budget Australian buddy cop comedy, but that’s why I said quasi at the beginning of this list. Even though it’s not a B-movie per se, it IS the second entry on this list that has Jerry O’Connell, this time alongside Anthony Anderson.

For those who don’t know, this movie takes some of its cues from this news story, where a couple of guys accidentally hit a kangaroo in Australia, decide for some reason, to dress the kangaroo in their clothes and take a photo. Once the photo was taken, the kangaroo regained consciousness and basically bounced away with all their possessions.

That’s basically the premise of the movie in a nutshell, except Jerry & Anthony are best buddies who have to deliver a bag full of money to a contact on behalf of Jerry’s mobster stepfather, played perfectly by Christopher Walken. And as it so happens, the money is inside the sweatshirt Anthony puts on Jack, the kangaroo who runs away. Oh and did I mention that Jack talks?

It’s a crack film to end all crack films and there’s just something about talking animals that always makes me keel over with laughter. No, it’s a not a great movie and yes, you have to suspend disbelief and stop yourself from yelling at the screen at how boneheaded the characters are, but somehow, a talking, rapping kangaroo in a hoodie makes up for that.

Hilarity Factor: 8/10

For more on the films that I find awesome, check out my post on the amazing Storyhive library and the top 10 most badass publicity campaigns in film & TV!

Introducing Amazing Canadian Short Films From the Storyhive Library

Although I’ve been working on and watching some amazing films lately, this year is the first year that I’ve actively paid attention and supported the Storyhive project. In a nutshell, the Storyhive project is a community powered funding program run by Telus in Western Canada that distributes production grants and distribution opportunities for creative people to develop live action and animated short films, web series and music videos.

Every year, Storyhive has submission periods for each category and once they’ve been accepted for the $10,000 production grants, voting periods open allowing the individual creators to get promoting for votes via social media as they vie for production grants in each category. Winners in each category receive customized career training and the opportunity to have their projects screened at the Banff World Media Festival.

I’d like to focus on the amazing library of female-directed live action short films from this year’s Digital Shorts competition as well as add in a couple of other projects that you may not have heard of. These films are all amazing in their own right with innovative and fun narratives and you definitely be watching them before it’s too late!

Never Better: A Closure Comedy directed by Lucie Guest

The first BC entry on this list, this one is a hilarious cringe-worthy comedy about the situation one woman, Rudi, finds herself in post-breakup. It’s about her journey to find closure.

Where to see it: It’s available on Storyhive online and for Telus subscribers on Optik Local on your Telus box at On Demand->TV On Demand->Optik Local->Storyhive Winners->Short Films by Female Directors for a very limited time so watch it before it’s too late!

 

I Phub You directed by Shannon Hunt

A cool concept for a short film rarely seen today, I Phub You tells the story of timid Kurtis struggling to connect with people in our technology obsessed world. After an incident leaves his world silent, he discovered what it means to truly connect with someone.

Where to see it: It’s available on Storyhive online and for Telus subscribers on Optik Local on your Telus box at On Demand->TV On Demand->Optik Local->Storyhive Winners->Short Films by Female Directors for a very limited time so watch it before it’s too late!

 

Nightwalk directed by Andrea Beça

A captivating mystery, Nightwalk focuses on Aatisha who makes an eerie discovery walking home one night: a memory card full of photos of her. The hunt is on to discover who’s been following her and the truth is more than she bargained for. You’ll love the twist at the end!

Where to see it: It’s available on Storyhive online and for Telus subscribers on Optik Local on your Telus box at On Demand->TV On Demand->Optik Local->Storyhive Winners->Short Films by Female Directors for a very limited time so watch it before it’s too late!

 

The Man in the Rabbit Mask directed by Ariel Hansen

Directed by seasoned horror actress Ariel Hansen, two girls recite a poem over candlelight during a sleepover that invites a mysterious stranger offering a gift-for a price. It’s 5 minutes of suspenseful horror that you’ll want to watch over and over again!

Where to see it: It’s available on Storyhive online and for Telus subscribers on Optik Local on your Telus box at On Demand->TV On Demand->Optik Local->Storyhive Winners->Short Films by Female Directors for a very limited time so watch it before it’s too late!

 

Static Alex directed by Alayna Silverberg

After mysteriously acquiring powers that allow her to control static electricity, Alex struggles to learn how to utilize them when faced with a crowd of bullies. Help from an unexpected source leads her to realize the full potential of her powers and how to move forward. For a 9 minute film, I loved the super power effects on this and I appreciated how it reminded me of Lincoln Campbell from Agents of Shield!

Where to see it: It’s available on Storyhive online and for Telus subscribers on Optik Local on your Telus box at On Demand->TV On Demand->Optik Local->Storyhive Winners->Short Films by Female Directors for a very limited time so watch it before it’s too late!

 

Chocolate Cake directed by Brittney Grabill

Jenny and Tim share a slice of chocolate cake during their first date and imagine through a series of flashforwards what it would mean for them to put themselves out there and take a chance on love. A sensitive look on how taking a chance with your heart can be a reward within itself, it’s definitely the most thought provoking film in the library.

Where to see it: It’s available on Storyhive online and for Telus subscribers on Optik Local on your Telus box at On Demand->TV On Demand->Optik Local->Storyhive Winners->Short Films by Female Directors for a very limited time so watch it before it’s too late!

 

Inconceivable directed by Joel McCarthy

This one isn’t a short film but rather the pilot episode of a hilarious web series where after 6 months of an experimental, open relationship 24 year old lesbian artist Rita discovers herself pregnant by 25 year old straight filmmaker Adam.  The pilot does a great job of establishing the awkwardness and the humor in the situation along with the fear that comes with the ‘what now’ scenario.

Where to see it: It’s available for Telus subscribers on Optik Local on your Telus box at On Demand->TV On Demand->Optik Local->Storyhive Winners->Web Series Pilots for a very limited time so watch it before it’s too late!

 

The Third Bandit directed by David I. Strasser

Runaway teens Charlie and Lara crisscross across BC in a drug fueled bank robbing spree after being taken in by a cult-like family. Indebted to the charismatic leader/crime lord Donovan, they must rob three banks in three days while deciding if they can trust disgraced cop Andrew Boone as the third member of their trio on this crime spree. The film establishes the suspense and tension right away while leaving you wondering what will happen next. It’s an older entry into the Storyhive library but it delivers just as much as the newer films.

Where to see it: It’s available for Telus subscribers on Optik Local on your Telus box at On Demand->TV On Demand->Optik Local->Storyhive Winners->Past Winners for a very limited time so watch it before it’s too late!

 

These great stories and amazing short films definitely deserve recognition and I thought I’d do my part in making sure they reach larger audiences!

Stay tuned for more on film and TV publicity campaigns, new projects, film festivals, travel/tourism projects and other news!

The Ultimate Guide to Short Film Distribution Platforms

If you’re following me on Twitter or happened to read any of my tweets, I’m sure you’ve noticed a theme: I love to show my support for the amazing stories behind indie feature and short films. You’ve probably also seen some evidence of that love through my Crazy8s case study (found here and here.)

And, as a unit publicist and social media strategist, I’ve spent a lot of years watching films, talking and collaborating with several indie film teams on PR campaigns and social media strategies to get their projects the recognition they deserve. In this conversations, I’ve discovered some general themes with how indie film makers work:

  • They understand that in order for their films to achieve recognition, they need publicity. But they need help navigating/obtaining press coverage.
  • As creators, they’d rather focus on putting together all the elements to get their stories to screen (line producing, screen writing, location scouting, casting etc.) than promoting the pre-, production and post-online via social media
  • They’re so focused on pre-production, filming then post-production that they completely ignore/forget the topic of distribution.

Now, I can definitely help clients with points #1 and #2, but the more film makers I talked to, the more I felt like I should also give them a nudge with distribution. It hardly seems fair that directors, producers and screenwriters (sometimes all 3 jobs rolled into one person) who spent an inordinate amount of time working on a project would just throw the film to be screened for free via YouTube or Vimeo. Now I know Vimeo and other VOD platforms have options to set up film rentals, but there should still be more of a revenue stream to it, you know?

Attention all indie filmmakers:  YOU DESERVE TO GENERATE REVENUE OFF YOUR FILM, DON’T APOLOGIZE FOR IT!!

To make sure you don’t forget about distribution or just put your project up for free as an afterthought, I’ve put together the ultimate guide for short film (though you CAN distribute feature-length films on these as well) distribution.

 1) VHX

 

Great for: Short & Feature Films, Web Series, TV Series

Some of the pros from the VHX platform: You can build an entire website using their website templates or you can use their customizable embed tools to integrate the widgets that will allow people to see the trailers and purchase/rent the films on your existing website.

You control all the pricing and content whether you decide to embed the widgets onto your site or build an entirely new one. You can decide to run your own subscription network (branded for your production company) to give your fans unlimited streaming of all your projects with monthly or annual plans or sell downloads and rentals of all your films. They have a handy dandy calculator that will show you how their fees stack up and how much video uploading, the subscription and buy/rent options cost.

2)Distrify

 

Great for: Short & Feature Films, Web Series, TV Series

Distrify allows you to sell your films even as you’re releasing your first official trailer. You’ll never have to pay to have your film featured on a VOD platform again. You can use Distrify for free to get your film featured on every website your audiences visit simply by sharing the video player. Then they’ll be able to watch your film from any platform. The video player is ultra-fast, HTML5 and allows you to set up rental/download options as well.

It’s available worldwide in multiple languages and currencies and the video player is always optimized for maximum performance on mobile platforms. You also get 85% back with 60p fixed cost and you’ll have the option to set your own pricing for rentals too!

3)Shorts TV

 

Great for: Short Films

This is a company that gives you more than one distribution platform option. All you have to do is complete the short films submission form and email it along with a password protected online link of your film to either the US or World contact for a chance to be featured on the world’s first and only 24/7 HD TV channel dedicated to short films or for download from online distributors such as iTunes, Google Play, Vimeo On Demand, Verizon, Amazon Video US, Amazon Video Germany or Amazon Video UK. Once you submit your film and it gets accepted, the company will upload it onto the platforms for you, so you don’t have to worry. Fans will be to see it on all these VODs as well as several different TV providers in the US and Europe.

4)It’s a Short

 

Great for: Short Films, Other Videos & Web Series

Once you sign up, you can upload and store your films and video content for free with no setup or storage charges. You can share your films via customized links on the different short film channels on the website and enter the associated film festivals on the circuit such as the Seattle International Film Festival and Miami Short Film Festival. You’ll get paid every time someone watches your films as the website allows people to subscribe to their entire library of short films & web series for $2/month or $20/year or rent a film for $1.49/month.

5)Short of the Week

Great for: Short Films

On this platform, you’ll have to pay $29 to submit your film and it’ll increase your chance of getting selected if your film hasn’t premiered online and is free for audiences. Once it’s accepted, you’ll have to send along a press kit and some film stills but in return, it’ll be featured on the website’s exclusive selection of short film channels. They’ll also send you an official launch guide to help position the best online launch for your film possible. They’ll also post official reviews of the short films they accept as well, so along with distribution, you’ll receive some press coverage!

6)Short of the Month

 

Great for: Short Films & Music Videos

This website allows you to submit your film through Film Freeway and they promote all kinds of short films, including the posters and trailers. They feature the films that are accepted onto their website and each accepted short film also enters for a chance to win awards such as Short of the Month (Best Film Award), Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Poster Design, Best Music Video or Viewer’s Choice Award (Most Viewed/Liked/Shared film on the website). All winning films will be listed on the website for life and receive a signed certificate by the website’s jury members.

Any film that wins Short of the Month will have exclusive advertising with the video & image ads placed across the web platform and an online interview with the director will be published, which means you’ll receive press coverage as well. Fees for submission will depend on which category you choose. For example, if your film is shortlisted under the premium ultra-submission, you’ll receive a dedicated page for your short, 24×7 email support, written review by SOTM team, video and image ads on the website and ad revenue share (with 100% share to filmmaker).

7)Seed and Spark

Great for: Short Films, Feature Films and TV Series

While this LA-based company is primarily a crowdfunding platform for indie films, they also offer a distribution platform. In order to submit your film, you must make sure that it’s not streaming for free elsewhere, own the content outright and fits into the categories of narrative, documentary, animated or experimental feature, short or episodic/transmedia project. You must also have a fanbase of at least 500 followers through social media or crowdfunding. If your film gets selected for distribution, you’ll receive 60% of the revenue split, customized marketing support, deep audience data and total financial transparency. You’ll also have to let the company know how you’ve been gathering your audience and how your project increases representation and inclusion in front of and/or behind the camera.

8)Gumroad

Great for: Short Films, Feature Films, Web Series, TV Series

Unlike some of the other platforms, Gumroad isn’t film or video specific. It’s a marketplace platform that allows you to also sell music, comics, software and books, basically a storefront for any creative industry.

You can personalize the landing page to feature your films and/or embed the Gumroad follow form on your existing website. You can import and export your followers/customers via email list at any time and if you need help, they have a 30-day audience building challenge and a 10-day product launch program. You can give your customers easy offers, sell your films in a wide variety of currencies, add a + sign to the price of a film to allow your audience to pay what they want and highlight your film/TV series/Web series library with dynamic image covers.

When they buy a rental from you, customers will have 30 days to stream (not download) the video files. Once they click “play” on a video file, their access to this file will expire in 72 hours. You can also set up the film to be purchased. How much does it cost to use Gumroad? It starts at $10/month with unlimited bandwidth and payments are just 3.5% + 30 cents per charge.

 

Know any other short film/film distribution platforms? Let me know! And keep it posted here for more posts on indie film, social media and marketing!

 

 

 

 

Case Study: Managing Unit Publicity and PR Campaign for the 2017 Crazy8s Film Event

website_banner_2017_films1

THE CHALLENGE

As unit publicist for the Crazy8s Film Event, developing the PR campaign for the film event as well as managing the publicity for all 6 winning teams during production, on set and during post production meant that I had educate the media that this was a film event, not a film festival. Being a film event meant that the top 6 winning teams won THE RIGHT to have their films produced and edited in 8 days with in-kind sponsorship donations in the form of cash and equipment, rather than submitting finished films to win awards.

The teams were:

cypher-poster

CypherA coming of age hip hop story about a Korean American teenager who finds a platform to confront the pain of his past in LA’s underground hip hop scene following the 1992 riots.

anh-hung-poster

Anh Hung-a story of how sibling bonds are forever changed when a young girl discovers the truth of her family’s (and her older brother’s) activities outside the law.

the-prince-poster

The Prince-a young dancer and her uncle, an actor, struggle with their identity as Middle Eastern Canadians following a violent confrontation on public transit.

no-reservations-poster

No Reservations-a satirical take on pipelines where the roles of the homeowners and the oil/gas company executives are reversed.

Undertaker’s Son– A young man in an 1880s Western town is forced to confront some long buried feelings about family when he joins his father for his first day of work as a undertaker for the family business.

woodman-poster

WoodMan-A man made of wood befriends a woman online and comes to realize how some of the lies he’s been telling himself has kept him trapped for years.

Additionally, I was also responsible for working with the teams to develop the official press kits that properly reflected their experiences and positioned the proper ‘story hooks’ for each of the 6 films to mainstream and online local and international media. With this year’s group of films focused on subjects outside popular genres such as horror, LGBT, romance and straight up comedy, developing the PR campaign was less about pitching to genre-specific media and more about doing research into each media outlet and what the types of films the journalists/bloggers/podcasters usually reviewed and scheduled interviews for.

THE SOLUTION

public-relations-concept-in-the-pr-industry1

After conducting extensive research into key media outlets and influencers and the topics they covered, I focused on pitching all 6 teams based on 3 parameters:

  • The hooks/subject matter/genre of each film
  • The background/experience of the director/producer teams (ie. whether they’d won awards, notable projects they’d worked on)
  • The ages of the director/producer teams (as some media outlets skewed more towards audiences between the ages of 20-35)

Following these parameters, I pitched all 6 teams to select podcasts and blogs in Vancouver, New York, Toronto and Seattle along with local radio stations and newspapers. Over the course of the six weeks, I followed up with key media outlets through both email and conversations via social media and continue to pitch each film based on topics of interest. I also worked with the Vancouver Sun to set up an official production blog for all teams to blog about their experiences with Crazy8s and share their journeys from writing the scripts to location scouting and casting.

RESULTS

crazy8s-2017-opening-gala

Through story pitching and social media campaign management, I secured national and international press coverage for all 6 film teams and the film event including but not limited to: radio stations such as Roundhouse Radio and Co-op Radio in Vancouver, broadcast media outlets such as CBC Vancouver, Novus TV and Vancouver TV, podcast media such as Endeavours Radio and print media outlets such as The Georgia Straight.

National and international outlets include Under the Noise Podcast (New York), About to Review (Seattle), Never Sleeps Network (Toronto) and Short Film Fan (Toronto)

 

 

Great Film Noir Genre Short Films from YVR

Being that 2017 is a new year and I’ve been slowly getting involved with doing PR for more indie film projects (more updates on that coming soon!), I decided to do some digging into my archives and I re-discovered some amazing film noir short films shot here in Vancouver.

Last year, I was involved in developing and executing the social media strategy as well as the corporate/media sponsorship for a local film noir festival in Vancouver known as the Rain City 72 Hour Film Noir Challenge. Competitive teams of 6 were tasked with submitting a script idea under the film noir sub genres of futuristic noir, femme fatale noir or detective noir and then they’d have 72 hours to shoot, cut and edit the film. There were additional challenges that had to met, such as using certain props from a special group that the Rain City executive team had specially curated for the event.

Each one of these films have great storylines that were amazingly acted and the local Vancouver scenery and environments were all utilized to their full potential. I’ve always been interested in different facets of the film noir genre, having religiously watched Jessica Jones from the edge of my seat (indeed, I can’t see David Tennant as anyone but Kilgrave now, after that performance) and from solving cases in the awesome video game LA Noire. So if anyone knows of any amazing film noir projects I should watch/play, let me know!

Without further ado, here are some of my absolute favorites from Rain City 72 Hour Film Noir Challenge 2015 and a couple film noir award winners from years past!

Stranger to Integrity by Polka Dot Rocket

The story of hidden corruption and embezzled money

Sharkey’s by Silent Alley

How a missing person’s case becomes a tangled web about family ties and organized crime

 

Off the Clock by New Theory Pictures

An off-duty cop goes looking for a missing young woman. But does he want her help? (Password:72)

The Disillusionment of Anglesea Briggs

The award winner from Raincity 72 Hour Film Noir Challenge 2007. Private dick Anglesea is on the trail when a woman he met named Dixie is murdered and the only witness to the crime is also killed.

Under the Bridge of Fear

The Leo Award winner featuring a producer credit for my dear friend & Rain City 72 Hour Film Noir Challenge Executive Director, Ryan Catherwood. Hard-boiled private-eye Hamilton Drake gets mixed up with the notorious Georgia Thurlow.

 

Remember, send me your film noir recommendations and stay tuned for my PR campaign for the indie sci-fi flick Psychonaut, coming soon!

 

Why Publicity Matters & How to Step Up Your Film Publicity Part 1

mr-nobody

When you have a new film project, web or TV series or a short and you want to share it with people, what do you do? You talk about it with friends and family and you create a presence on social media via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and possibly a few others like Periscope, complete with photos and/or video, making sure, of course, to tag the right people. Right? Of course you do.

But here’s what you might not realize: there’s more to sharing your story and receiving some promotional publicity than putting photos and video up on social media. It’s the quality of what you choose to share.

Of course, I’m not talking about blurry or dark photos-it’d be common sense not to post those. To cover key pivotal moments, you need really good photography. When you think about how great images shape film posters, billboards & websites-it doesn’t seem so far-fetched to have some professional publicity as a long term investment towards a film’s future.

But there’s more that professional publicity can help with than amazing photos & videos. Here’s 3 major reasons why professional publicity matters & how it can help you step up your game in promoting a film or TV show.

Publicity Isn’t Just About Knowing What to Share

the-wolverine-concept-poster

Having a publicist to help promote your project isn’t just about knowing what to share and how to share it. It’s also about knowing when to share a piece of news. Maybe you have an awesome teaser trailer or some behind-the-scenes B roll that hasn’t quite cleared the editing stage or a concept for a film poster but not the final image. Sometimes holding things back can benefit your project in the long run and save you time and energy when it comes to the editing stage -and that’s where having an expert publicist in your corner to schedule things can help.

Publicists Have Valuable Relationships With Journalists

press

Any publicist who knows what they’re doing is bound to have existing positive and influential relationships with journalists. Through these connections, publicists are able to pitch your film/TV show in a way that you wouldn’t be able to (at least, not without spending a lot of time, energy & your own money) and based on that prior experience and knowledge, they know HOW to present your project to a journalist.

These relationships are invaluable and having a professional publicist who knows journalists and talks to them daily-is vital.

Publicity Generates Buzz BEFORE a Film’s Finished

film-buzz

Remember what I said earlier regarding the fact that publicity is sometimes about holding things back? Well, that doesn’t mean that you hold everything back until the film’s finished.

To create an extensive and successful publicity campaign, you need to start early during pre-production and get the jump on having a presence on IMDB as well as creating a plan/schedule for possible publicity events. You should also start early when it comes to getting together teasers of the publicity materials (ie. footage, posters etc.) when you get them.

Want more info on how to step up your game in promoting your film or TV show? Stay tuned for Why Publicity Matters Part 2: Why You Need a Unit Publicist and my upcoming post on Top 10 Best Ways to Promote Films & TV Shows.

How Music, Literature and Film Helps Me Overcome Writer’s Block

After seeing some great lists, chock full of ideas to help boost creativity, I thought I’d share my own list of great tracks, books and movies that help me get over writer’s block to close out 2016.

Whether I’m writing copy for a new website, crafting a PR release or working on one of 30 different fan fic stories in different fandoms I’ve got going on, I can sometimes get stuck on writing the next sentence or get boggled down on trying to edit as I go along.

These are the artists, the films and the books that have helped me get out of that rut for years. So, without further ado, here’s the list to close out 2016.

1) Simon-Lifehouse

One of the best-if not, the most underrated tracks off Lifehouse’s debut album, 2000’s No Name Face, this is a song that’s been a positive influence for over half my life. Every time Jason sings, ‘fulfillment to their lack of strength, at your expense. Left you with no defense, they tore it down. And I have felt the same as you, I have felt the same as you,’ I’m reminded that I’m not alone, that he understands, that he’s always understood and that no matter how stuck you think you are, no matter how hopeless things seem, there’s always a way out and for you to be strong.

2) The Pursuit of Happyness

pursuit-of-happyness

I’d say this film is probably the most poignant and inspirational film of Will Smith’s career. As a lifelong fan of his from his Fresh Prince & DJ Jazzy Jeff days, the one sequence that really spoke volumes to me is where he’s sitting inside the subway station bathroom with his son, tears pouring down his face as strangers pound on the door, not realizing that he’s in fact living with his son in the bathroom. It’s an amazing movie, a reminder that we all have the strength to keep us going, no matter how exhausted we are, no matter how hopeless things seem. It shows us who we really are and what we’re truly capable of.

3) Always Looking Up, The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist-Michael J. Fox

mj-fox

As a long time fan of Michael J. Fox and his sense of humor, this is the ONE biography that I’ve read in recent memory that can make me laugh and make me cry all in 200 pages. As I was reading, I could honestly hear him actually saying the words inside my head, like we were having a conversation. It follows the days after his departure from the amazingly awesome Spin City in 2000 after he made his Parkinson’s diagnosis public and how he founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation. It’s a great read-inspirational, hilarious and heart breaking all at once.

4) A Density of Souls-Christopher Rice

a-density-of-souls

As a major fan of his mother Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles, I picked up Christopher Rice’s debut novel on a whim and I was automatically sucked in. Every time I crack it open, I find myself getting sucked in again into the tragedy, the love, the coming of age and the darkness that can come from growing up, growing apart and realizing things about yourself that you never knew were there. The four central characters of Stephen, Meredith, Greg and Brandon and the one outside observer who comes home in Jordan really craft a recognizable and relatable journey. The fact that it’s set in New Orleans, a city that’s historically been divided by money and class and yet finds itself floating on water that could wash it all away is both poignant and fitting. I can’t recommend this book enough.

5) Be Somebody-Fort Minor

Track #14 off of the debut solo album of Linkin Park’s rapping maestro, the incredible Mike Shinoda; this track forces you to sit up and listen, to fight for what you believe in and to not let ANYONE and ANYTHING hold you back from doing what you want to do. As someone who has been beat down, belittled, discouraged and actively disrespected when it comes to what I love, this song absolutely gives me the strength to power through all of that and everything ahead of me. I do what I do because I believe in what I love and that’s all there is to it. Special shout out also to the first single “Remember the Name” and “High Road”-a great collaboration with the multi-talented John Legend.

6) Decisions-Jim Treliving

jim-trelivinh

As a freelancer and a long time customer of Boston Pizza, I’d heard great things about Jim Treliving’s biography and ended up getting a copy as a birthday gift. It chronicles the story of how Jim went from being an RCMP officer to owning the first Boston Pizza and the decisions that he’s made every step of the way as a business owner. What I learned from Jim is that every decision is neither good nor bad, it’s simply a decision. What influences whether it’s a good or bad decision depends on the situation that happens next. Definitely pick this book up if you’re struggling and stuck on where you want to go next for your projects or your business. I love the case study of the risk Jim took during Expo ’86, makes me wish I could’ve been there myself to support him.

7) Saw 2

saw-2

It might seem odd to put a horror film on this list-and even more odd that I saw this one (on New Year’s Eve, no less) without ever seeing the first Saw film, but this one definitely struck me. For one thing, it’s pretty rare to have a horror film with a moral to it and yet it’s a simple one: either you appreciate your life or someone will take it from you. Doesn’t that relate to all of us in some way? We’re all guilty of taking something for granted, whether it’s a new platform, new tool, our loved ones-or just that fact that we’re seemingly coasting through life. Not only that, but the scene with the pit of needles continues to haunt me to this day *shudders*

8) Snow Garden-Christopher Rice

snow-garden

Continuing some of the themes from his debut novel, the characters in his sophomore effort, this time in college, definitely discover some really harsh truths about themselves and the people around them. Certainly the desire to feel valued, to be accepted, to find those like you definitely plays a part in the story but the climax was totally delicious. I’d say every time I pick up this novel, t forces me to dig deeper and get down to the bedrock of what I’m really looking for and what I’m willing to do. Yet another one on my list that I can’t recommend enough.

9) I Will Get There-Boyz II Men

As a huge part of the musical fabric of my childhood, Boyz II Men’s soulful R &B harmonies permeated my earliest memories, thanks in large part to my brother’s influence. Today, I still listen to them when I’m looking for a particular musical feel while working on a story, trying to let go of a less-than-ideal relationship or looking for inspiration. This track, found on the Prince of Egypt soundtrack (still one of my favorite animated films, by the way), really exemplifies the journey that we all take to get to that destination. Maybe that destination is a new home, a new job, embarking on higher education or trying to build a healthier life, free of substance abuse and negativity. Whatever it is, the boys always tell me that I’ll get there, no matter what. You have to have faith and believe, no matter the twists, the turns and the obstacles-there will always be a way.

10) Undone-Lifehouse

To close off the list, I’ve got a track off of the band’s 2005 self-titled album. This track is like the one close friend that we all have, the one that we love more than family. When your world is falling apart, when you’re at rock bottom and you’re in the worst pain imaginable, that friend will be there. They may have some hard truths and tough love and choose to force you to see the light rather than just paying lip service, but they love you nonetheless and they’ll never leave you. Once again, Lifehouse is one of the biggest musical influences in my life and I carry every one of their albums with me, no matter where I am.

Here’s to a great 2017 to everyone and a Happy New Year! I’ll be returning with some great posts on how PR works in film and insights on new marketing tools!

Discovering Iceland: Eye Opening Facts About Icelandic History

Church in the northern town of Holmavik.

Church in the northern town of Holmavik.

In part two of my three part series on my recent travels to Iceland, I’ll be focusing on interesting and fun facts about Icelandic history, including how Iceland is historically connected to Canada.

It was a definite eye opener traversing through the Icelandic Museum of Witchcraft and Sorcery in the quaint northern town of Holmavik, appropriately enough, on Halloween and then the Viking World Museum in the airport town of Keflavik.

It was fun, enlightening and definitely worth the visit. So without further ado, here are some really cool facts that I learned about Icelandic history. If you’re curious about business in Iceland, check out part one of Discovering Iceland for an overview of Iceland’s tech industry.

Delving into Iceland’s Sordid Witchcraft Past

Icelandic Museum of Witchcraft and Sorcery

Icelandic Museum of Witchcraft and Sorcery

The Icelandic Museum of Witchcraft and Sorcery might be on the small side, but it was chalk full of eye opening bits of history and artifacts.

14910544_10154715916593408_4601394417247393382_n

One of the coolest things we came across was an actual stone bowl that held the only evidence that the Vikings held conducted ritual blood sacrifices. There was still dried blood in the bowl.

Letter from the Journalist

Letter from the Journalist

Beyond that, there was a creepy true story in the form of a letter from a journalist who visited the museum, who had purchased a talisman in the form of a necklace, hoping that it’d cure him of a recent toothache. Instead of a cure, everything went wrong. Once he sent it back, however, everything went back to normal.

The handy guidebooks we were given also had a plethora of different spells and incantations using different grimores and symbols. There were spells for invisibility, catching a thief, healing minor wounds and protecting livestock.

However, there was an entirely darker and more sinister side to the spells as well. People had been accused of harming livestock, causing ships to crash along the shores and making their neighbors to fall ill.

List of those executed for witchcraft.

List of those executed for witchcraft.

One of the most eye opening facts that stuck with me out of the entire excursion to the Icelandic Museum of Witchcraft and Sorcery is that Icelandic witchcraft history is almost EXACTLY the inverse of the Salem Witch Trials across the border in the US. Of those 21 people accused and executed, only ONE of them was a woman. That’s right, witchcraft in Iceland, historically, was practiced by men. In fact, based on the museum exhibits, there was only one spell really, that women were commonly known to have conjured and it involved creating their own monstrous ‘pets’ that grew out of their thighs and that needed to be fed human milk. I couldn’t see the use of that particular spell during the 1660s so I moved on pretty quick after reading that.

Re-enactment of raising the dead.

Re-enactment of raising the dead.

The first man to be accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake in 1652, Jón Rõgnvaldsson, had been accused of raising the dead. Clearly, even though that word wasn’t in use at the time, Icelanders feared the idea of zombies. Just seeing the creepy re-enactment on the floor of the museum was enough for your skin to crawl. It was by far, the most unique case of witchcraft I came across. Others had been accused of controlling predatory animals such as foxes to kill livestock, causing their neighbors to fall ill or stealing money and valuables.

Not surprisingly, many of those doing the accusing held positions of political power, something Iceland’s witchcraft past shares with Salem. You had mayors and magistrates doing the accusing or their family members leveraging said relationships to get people they hated into court. Of course, these judges and mayors also found themselves accused from time to time and while their influence was usually kept them from execution, they weren’t always so lucky.

The Sorcerer's Cottage

The Sorcerer’s Cottage

We traveled to the Sorcerer’s Cottage, about half an hour away from the Icelandic Museum of Witchcraft and Sorcery to see the flip side of how the people who often got accused, used to live. Indeed, most of the people who were accused of witchcraft were poor fishermen and their families who lived in one-room cottages and who barely scraped by when it came to food and hunting enough animals to create warm clothing for the winter. They built their homes from discarded driftwood and really didn’t have the means or the resources to often defend themselves from accusations of witchcraft. The prevailing belief was that they turned to the supernatural to try and raise their stations in life, even if that belief turned out to be false.

How the Vikings Have a Connection to Canada

Statue outside the Viking World Museum

Statue outside the Viking World Museum

On our second to last day in Iceland, we stopped in at the Viking World Museum in the airport town of Keflavik as my husband had been wanting to take in some Viking history on this trip.

Boats used for Viking funerals

Boats used for Viking funerals

Notable exhibits included a replica of the ships that were used for Viking funerals, filled with objects that meant something to the deceased in life and that would carry them on the journey to Valhalla. The boats were then lit on fire and pushed out into the water on their journey. I also enjoyed taking a look at the exhibit featuring the quern stone which indicated that early settlers to Iceland had tried-and failed-in their attempts to grind local lyme grass into flour.

The Yggardsil World Tree

The Yggdrasil World Tree

There was even an interesting exhibition on Norse mythology known as Fate of the Gods with all the pieces put together by contemporary Icelandic artists and featuring the World Tree, otherwise known as Yggdrasil. Marvel Cinematic nerds like me will recognize that name as the tree that connects all the worlds together, meaning Asgard to Midgard (Earth), Helheim and more.

The replica Íslendingur Viking ship

The replica Íslendingur Viking ship

However, the most eye opening part of the Viking World Museum was definitely how the Vikings were connected and continue to be connected to Canada. By now, I’m sure many people have heard about how ruins of a Viking settlement had been found in Newfoundland and Labrador and that Leifur Eirikkson had made the journey to Canada approximately around 870 AD. In fact, artifacts known as Tupliaks, carved by Canada’s Inuit population have been found in Iceland, indicating that they’d come in contact with Eirikkson’s Vikings and conducted trade.

Commemorative gifts from the Íslendingur's voyage to Newfoundland

Commemorative gifts from the Íslendingur’s voyage to Newfoundland

The talented shipwright, Gunnar Eggertsson, re-created a replica of Eirikkson’s ship known as Íslendingur, which he sailed to North America in 2000 to commemorate Leifur Eirikkson’s journey to the New World 1000 years before. The ship arrived in Newfoundland in July 2000 and the Special Celebrations Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, hosted a magor celebration on July 28, when the Íslendingur arrived in L’anse aux Meadows, the only authenticated Viking site in North America. They received several gifts from the mayor and the delegation to commemorate the anniversary, including a commemorative plaque, Tupliaks, a commemorative plate and even a soapstone carving. Íslendingur was suspended on ropes and we could walk onto the deck of it and remarkably, considering the ship was built in 1995 and it endured such a long journey, it was in great shape. It was definitely humbling to walk on the deck of something that had been built by hand and re-created one of the greatest historical journeys connecting Iceland to Canada.

Stay tuned for part three of my blog series on Discovering Iceland, this time focusing on aspects of the Icelandic lifestyle. In the meantime, check out my insights on the Icelandic tech industry in Discovering Iceland Part 1.

 

How A Film PR Campaign Made an Actor’s First Time at TIFF a Success

Actor Peter Dacunha with Dean Norris at the Remember premiere, TIFF 2015

Actor Peter Dacunha with Dean Norris at the Remember premiere, TIFF 2015

My first time ever doing PR for an actor was a definitive eye opener and a great professional challenge to get as much press coverage off-and on- the red carpet ASAP during the two weeks of the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015. To make the challenge even more intriguing, Peter Dacunha had TWO films premiering at TIFF, the drama Remember, directed by talented Egyptian-Canadian director Atom Egoyan and the horror film Hellions.

 

We had a limited window for press coverage so after interviewing Peter and learning more about the roles he played in both Remember and Hellions. I identified a list of influential mainstream and horror media outlets and pitched Peter and both films to them, getting coverage from national outlets like CP24 and horror media outlets like the Ginger Nuts of Horror. Check out a few of the resulting national and international coverage pieces here and make sure to read my case study! You can see the photos from the red carpet premieres of Remember and Hellions at TIFF 2015 below as well.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Essential tips for traveling with kids

family-camping-food-menu

It’s been many a month since I last posted on this blog. Projects for clients and other companies took precedence, but I’ve learned a lot along the way that I hope to share with you soon. Here’s hoping for more bigger and better marketing, social media and business posts filled with insightful advice-due to arrive ASAP!

In the meantime, here’s a reblog of the post that I wrote for MEC on traveling with kids. For parents looking to make family trips a little easier, enjoy!

Whether you’re planning a long road trip, a fall camping vacation or a first-time visit to a different city, travelling with kids is a great opportunity to build some family memories. But as any parent knows, things can get a little crazy when you add little travellers to the mix. Use this list of tips to keep everyone (adults included) happy and your trip running smoothly.

Choose lightweight luggage

When you’re travelling with kids, it’s important to make sure that you have enough lightweight compact storage to keep their clothes, toys and snacks in order. Look for bags that can pack away when you’re not using them to save space, like the Travel Light Duffle. It has plenty of room and can fold into its own pocket to stash during or away after your trip.

Even the littlest explorer wants a bit of independence from mom and dad. Equip your kids with their own small daysack that has room for a toy, snack and water bottle, so that they can stay hydrated, happy and feeling grown up (and you have one less thing to carry). The Littlelife Animal Daysack comes in neat shapes for kids that like nature. Find out what other features to look for when you’re choosing a kids’ backpack.

Pack portable fun

board-game

When you’re traveling for hours – whether it’s a long drive to your campsite or an international flight to see new cities – keep the kids entertained with a portable game that won’t drain any batteries or need a power outlet. They’ll be too busy having fun to ask the dreaded, “Are we there yet?”

Layer up

It’s good to be prepared for anything the weather might bring – and this is where layering comes in handy. Layer a fleece jacket under your kid’s water-resistant outer shell to keep them warm and dry if it starts to drizzle, or just use the fleece jacket for cool nights. Some ideas? The Yeti Hooded Jacket or the Cocoon Reversible Jacket.

Don’t forget about yourself either – it’s important for you to be comfortable when you’re wrangling the family from point A to B. The waterproof-breathable Alpine Ally Jacket has deep pockets that gives parents quick access to essential items like bug spray. It’s also super lightweight, which allows for easy movement when you’re chasing after kids or tucking them into their sleeping bags.

Let the Kids Be the Chefs

camping_party_trail_mix_6

Build a mobile pantry with all the fixings for trail mix in separate food containers, so that everyone can create their own combinations. You can also let the kids create a fun dessert like s’mores – they’ll like camping that much more when they have a say into what’s on the menu.

Pack cutlery and bowls that don’t have sharp edges, are small enough to be held by little hands and can easily flatten to save room, so that you can call on help from the whole family to make clean up that much quicker.

Give Them the Chance to Explore

explorer-kid

One of the best reasons to bring kids on a road trip is so they can explore nature in new places, which means mud, dirt, leaves and puddles. Look for waterproof boots made with parents in mind, like these Stonz Rain Bootz – they’re easy to pull on and off as the weather changes. That means you can let your little ones wander (within reason!) through the woods, without worrying about wet feet.

Prep for naptime

When you’re on a hike and the kids get tired, give your arms a break and strap them into a comfortable carrier. They’ll be off their feet and shielded from the rain, giving them an opportunity to rest up for the next fun activity.

Bring the first aid kit

Scrapes and bruises are bound to happen when you’re travelling with kids. Keep the first aid kit on hand to help bandage any minor bumps quickly so you can get back to enjoying your vacation as soon as possible.

These simple tips will help you keep everyone happy on your next family vacation. By prepping ahead of time, you’ll have a memorable trip with the kids that’ll have you planning your next vacation as soon as you get home.

Original Blog Post