The Top 6 Most Badass Publicity Campaigns in TV & Movies

If you read our previous blog post about the Top 10 Best Ways to Promote Films & TV Shows, it’s a safe bet that you now have some cool & fun ideas for your next marketing campaign for a new TV series or film.

But when it comes to publicity campaigns, there’s a major difference between piquing your audience’s interest & really making the fans you want, stand up and take notice. We might have already covered a few of them (see: Publicity Stunt from Top 10 Ways to Promote Films), but there are a few other awesome publicity campaigns that deserve recognition for how they push the envelope and generally for how badass they are.

So without further ado, here are top 6 of the most badass publicity campaigns in the history of TV & movies!

  1. Friends Don’t Drink Friends for True Blood

The legendary HBO vampire TV show based on the bestselling novel series The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris really hit the ground running with their initial publicity campaign.

The series first made influential horror bloggers all across the country sit up and take notice when they mailed them cryptic letters containing vials of the synthetic Tru Blood. It also gave them access to an exclusive vampires-only website announcing the ‘coming out’ of vampires into the real world.

Next came the billboards and bus shelter ads advertising Tru Blood products with the familiar slogans like “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink Friends”. Audiences were hooked and the rest, as they say, was vampire history.

 

  1. Breaking News for Independence Day

By now, we’ve all heard the infamous 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast (and if you haven’t, The Simpsons parodies it pretty well) where the people were convinced we were actually being invaded by aliens. Well fast forward 58 years later, where Independence Day took it one step further.

The marketing Powers That Be behind the film created a 30 minute news broadcast, complete with a breaking news report of aliens invading. The report was intercut with footage from the film, making it look so realistic that some viewers actually called 911 in a panic.

 

  1. Chart-Topping Hit for The Monkees

As we now know, The Monkees never were a real band. But in 1966, there was a confusing conundrum: the band’s first single “Last Train to Clarksville” was on the radio and moving up the charts; so how could the band be fake?

It was a brilliant move by the show’s producers to blur the line between reality & fiction. By the time the show made it to air 2 months later in Sept. 1966, the single-and the band-was a number #1 hit. By November, the band had a #1 single, the #1 album and one of the hottest TV shows on the air.

 

  1. A Final Send Off Worthy of the Ages for Breaking Bad

What’s the best way to promote the final 8 episodes of a ground-breaking hit show like Breaking Bad? How about creating an ad that doesn’t feature any of the main characters?

The teaser promo features a voiceover by series star Bryan Cranston reading ‘Ozymandias’, by Percy Shelley, set to images of New Mexico that include Breaking Bad‘s familiar RV. It ends with the image of Cranston’s famous Heisenberg hat lying in the desert.

Did it work? Well, the show received its highest ratings ever for the final 8 episodes. So, yes, I’d say it worked.

 

  1. Missing Persons Reports Filed for The Blair Witch Project

Arguably the one film that grandfathered the ‘found footage’ concept in movies, The Blair Witch Project came up with an ingenious way to promote the project. The marketing team claimed that the entire situation was REAL. They created missing persons posters for the three actors (who never made public appearances) who were presumed missing and dead and even hung them up around the Sundance Film Festival.

The end result? It was the most successful movie hoax in history-The Blair Witch Project grossed $250 million on a $22,000 budget and popularized the horror mockumentary/found footage genre.

 

  1. Talking Heads About Zombies for The Walking Dead

– Talking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/AMC

A show after the show you just watched where people sit around and talk about the characters you just saw on screen? The ‘after show’ is one of the most brilliant publicity concepts ever. It’s an advertisement but one that allows people to chat (and tweet) about their favorite show.

Talking Dead, hosted by legendary geek Chris Harwick, the after show for AMC’s hit zombie apocalypse The Walking Dead is a great example of this. It’s a fun discussion of all the current and past storylines & characters and even has a ton of cool features like the In Memoriam montage segment that pays tribute to characters lost that week. It’s both disgusting and hilarious all at the same time.

Love my features on film & TV publicity? Keep your eyes peeled here for more awesome posts on everything from unit publicity to tips on marketing and social media!

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

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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)

 

 

Top Eight Inspirational Ad Campaigns

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As a marketing communications professional, my first exposure to the world of advertising, public relations and social media was actually through a Nike campaign some 20 years ago. This particular campaign inspired me, pushed me to be better and forced me, even at a young age, to keep going even in the face of failure. Maybe it’s also partially responsible for my brand loyalty to Nike all these years.

Years later, the message behind this campaign continues to inspire me and it’s a message that I reach for when times are tough, when I get low and there doesn’t seem to be a way out. It inspires me so much that I even analyzed it in an academic paper.  As a professional storyteller for clients in film, food and tourism, helping them translate their stories for an array of mediums (whether it’s in PR, social media or a blog/print piece); I’ve always felt that a narrative doesn’t have to be long in order to be inspirational. Ad campaigns can go beyond selling something to actually make you feel something and messages also doesn’t have to come from a book, a film or a TV series in order be real, raw and realistic.

Without further ado, I’m going to share some of the most inspirational ad campaigns that have pushed me to be better and continue to fight through adversity and move forward in the face of failure.

1.Nike-“Failure” (1997)

Though far from the first Michael Jordan led Nike campaign I’d seen growing up, it was definitely the first of many Nike campaigns that struck a chord with me. As he’s walking into the Chicago Bulls locker room, one of the greatest basketball players of all time ruminates on all the times he’d messed up, missed a shot or the games he’s lost-and how it forces him to continue to push himself to be better. If there was one message that I continue to carry with me from this campaign, is that failure isn’t the end and that you can-and should-use it to as motivation to learn from your mistakes and move forward. Still a campaign I return 20-some odd years later whenever things are tough and I need inspiration.

2. Nike-“Maybe It’s My Fault” (2008)

Another Michael Jordan campaign that forces you to stand up and pay attention; this was the campaign formed the basis of the academic paper I mentioned earlier. With Michael providing the voiceover, the ad cycles through several significant locations and areas from his life, from his old gym and the locker room at UNC, to the trophies and accolades in the Chicago Bulls locker room. In the voiceover, the man himself talks about how peoples’ misconceptions about his career and his skill set allowed them to make excuses for themselves. At the end of the ad, he forces them to stand up and listen and to stop using him as an excuse for why they can’t play the game of basketball. The message here is simple: just because he was able to do what he was able to do doesn’t mean you can’t do the same. Stop putting him up on a pedestal that you can never reach and start working hard to get to where you want to go.

3. Converse-“Love Letter to Basketball” (2007)

Less of a campaign and more of a personal reflection that inspired a campaign for Converse, this was the video I remember showing a co-worker (herself a basketball player who had to stop playing due to chronic injuries) 7 years ago; which reduced her into a flood of tears. Written by the amazingly talented Dwyane Wade (one of the best currently active players in the NBA today) while he was still endorsed by Converse, it’s an inspirational piece about the struggles any athlete faces in the sport they love. When you struggle with something you love, it can be disheartening, it can beat you down, wear you out and cause you to want to give up. It’s a powerful letter filled with hope that things can get better if you persevere in what you love and don’t allow the cycle of negativity to suck you under.

4. Nike-“Together” (2014)

Are you perhaps sensing a theme in the types of campaigns I find inspirational? Even as a non-Cleveland Cavaliers fan and a casual fan of LeBron James, this campaign continues to cause me to choke up every time I see it. Why? It’s like the tagline says “This time it’s bigger than basketball,” and it was. This campaign was rallying battle cry for the city of Cleveland and it showed. This shared community, this shared love for sport brought out the loyalty, the love and the best out of the citizens of Cleveland. Say what you want about LeBron’s career, his attitude regarding some aspects of celebrity and the controversial move he made to leave Cleveland in the first place, but the man is a leader-and one who is great at rallying people around him.  And the payoff of this? Cleveland won their first-ever NBA championship two seasons later. I’d say the tears LeBron shed were well warranted.

5.Smarties-“Duets” (2008)

An interesting campaign that doesn’t show its hand on what product they’re promoting until the very end, this older Smarties campaign features several Canadian singers in a duet with one another in several different locations from a church and skate park to a city bus. Each pair features a singer with another musician playing an instrument, whether it’s a beatboxer, guitarist or saxophonist. Each one sings a variation of lyrics off of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People”, substituting the colors for occupations before ending with a flourish on the line “I am everyday people.” While this wasn’t a well-known Smarties campaign around the world or even in Canada at the time, there’s something about seeing people from all different cultures and ethnic backgrounds, singing the lyrics of a song that promotes inclusiveness and acceptance of diversity, especially in the face of today’s many issues surrounding racism and prejudice.

6. Chrysler-“Imported From Detroit (Super Bowl 2011)

While not a huge car fan by any means, this campaign during the Super Bowl in 2011 caught my eye because of the underlying implications. At the time, Detroit was still reeling from the 2008 recession, hit incredibly hard economically with houses foreclosing left, right and center and several auto makers had to be bailed out by the US government. Eminem, Detroit’s prodigal son, was also experiencing a major comeback in his career, having released the great album Recovery, a few months previously. What this campaign symbolizes to me is the revitalization of Detroit, the auto industry and indeed, Eminem’s career. It’s that blue-collar work ethic and the refusal to ever give up that really stands out in this campaign. The use of Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’ was the perfect soundtrack to illustrate what Detroit and what Eminem is made of.

7. Nike-“Fate- Leave Nothing” (2008)

Directed by the legendary David Fincher, this is by far my favorite NFL football campaign. He focuses on the life-long journeys of pro football players, LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers and future Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers as they collide in an NFL season game. In the campaign, you see how both players grew up, got involved with basketball and then football and how they trained for both sports. As the two collide on the field, the message is clear: give it your all, no matter what you choose to do and leave nothing on the table. If you leave it all out there, you’ll have no regrets, no matter what the result of everything you’ve worked towards.

8.Nike-“Let Your Game Speak” (2006)

I thought I’d close off the list with one last Michael Jordan campaign. Unlike the other ad campaigns featured on this list, this one contains no dialogue whatsoever. Instead, this campaign shows several basketball players making slick slam dunks and gorgeous shots on courts all over the world. College kids in tournaments, high school students in the gym, even students halfway across the world in China execute great plays on the basketball court. The ad ends with a basket being sunk due to a great shot from a young Chicago native during the Chi Classic while Michael Jordan stands, proudly watching the next generation-with the words ‘Let Your Game Speak’ going across the screen. Simple, but poignant, it tells you that sometimes, words are necessary to have make an impact. Sometimes, all you need is to let your skills speak for themselves.

That’s my list of ad campaigns that inspire me and push me to do better, move forward and continue fighting. Know any more that I should watch? Let me know!

In the meantime, here’s my list of go-to songs, books & movies that help me beat writer’s block.

Top 10 Unique Ways to Promote Films & TV Shows

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Deadpool Billboard Campaign

Starting a marketing campaign for a new movie or TV show isn’t an exact science but there are a couple of crucial elements that shouldn’t be forgotten. 1. Timing is EVERYTHING when it comes to any promotional campaign for movies & TV. You have to build up an incredible amount of hype in a tight time frame leading up to and during the launch of the film/TV show.  2. TV shows & movies are content goldmines-filled with awesome images, storylines & characters that will give you a huge edge when building an upcoming TV or film launch.

So how do you get started on marketing for a film and/or a TV show? Here are top 10 unique strategies, tips & creative ideas for an exceptional marketing campaign for your next movie or TV show.

 

  1. Create Something Memorable With A Publicity Event

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In his popular best-selling book Purple Cow, renowned marketing guru Seth Godin (& one of my biggest inspirations of all time) makes a comment about how in order to be remarkable, you must include something worth noticing into your product, service or campaign. In other words, to get people talking about your campaign-and have it go viral-you have to DO something worth talking about.

Word of mouth is by far the most powerful form of marketing and in some ways, it can be the most memorable. The more people talk about your campaign, the more viral marketing works for you.

To help launch the film in the UK and celebrate the Year of the Sheep for Chinese New Year, Shaun the Sheep starred in two charity art trails in London and Bristol with larger than life sculptures of the famous sheep raising funds for children’s hospitals in the UK.

When Matt Groening & Co decided to finally bring The Simpsons to the big screen, they converted several 7-Elevens across the US and even in Canada into Kwik-E-Marts selling items like Squishees and donuts & propelled their publicity campaign into legendary status almost overnight. Do something remarkable.

 

  1. Pre-Roll Video Advertising

What’s pre-roll advertising? In a nutshell, it’s a short teaser trailer that will appear before related YouTube videos or IMDB videos that has a call-to-action at the end of the clip. Entice viewers to click through to the website to watch the full trailer, enter their email to win tickets or play a social game about the movie. It’s a great way to make your teaser trailer memorable.

 

  1. Open Up Your Press Events

BERLIN, GERMANY - APRIL 29: (L-R) Actors Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto, director J.J. Abrams, actors Chris Pine and Alice Eve attend the 'Star Trek Into Darkness' Press Conference at Hotel Adlon on April 29, 2013 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures) *** Local Caption *** Simon Pegg; Zoe Saldana; Zachary Quinto; J.J. Abrams; Chris Pine; Alice Eve

This one might seem like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people still continue to rely on mainstream media outlets & critics for their coverage. But by opening up your press event to influential bloggers and fans, or better yet, having several smaller press events in different regions, there is HUGE potential to have your film/TV show gain viral coverage & you could also run a contest in conjunction with the event to have fans enter to meet the cast.

 

  1. Allow Your Audience to Experience The Story

To help promote Christopher Nolan’s 2009 mind-bending action thriller Inception, Warner Brothers created a virtual game ‘Mind Crime’ playing on the movie’s tagline “your mind is the scene of the crime” and allowing users to develop their own dream worlds/mazes & move within them.

The virtual game allowed users to not only build and move within their own dream landscapes and even introduced the repercussions of having a mind’s defences attack you-just like the characters in the film experience. The game also integrated the ability for you to share your progress via Facebook, play mazes created by other fans & compete with each other on the leader board, helping to spread the word about the movie virally.

 

  1. Make Viewers A Part of the Film

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In the 15 months leading up to the launch of second film in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy; Warner Brothers created a 360° immersive experience recruiting over 11 million people in 75 countries to become citizens of Gotham. These fans fueled the rise of the Joker as henchmen, campaigned for Harvey Dent to get elected as District Attorney, and even took the law into their own hands by becoming copycat Batman vigilantes. From calling phone numbers written in the sky to hunting down GPS coordinates to find mobile phones baked inside of birthday cakes, “Why So Serious?” generated an enormous amount of buzz for the film.

 

  1. Use More Niche Social Media Platforms Such as Periscope, Pinterest & Instagram

Even though Facebook & Twitter is most certainly at the heart of most social media strategy, that doesn’t mean you should avoid smaller platforms like Periscope, Instagram & Pinterest. You can still create some really innovative marketing campaigns, but the trick is knowing how to use them.

The annual Toronto Silent Film Festival (TSFF) has used Instagram in some ingenious ways in its annual campaign to help promote the festival. They’ve used the platform to previously create flip book trailers of all the films and a time machine timeline celebrating the career of the great Charlie Chaplin.

For 2015, they turned their entire Instagram account into a portal that allows viewers to ‘choose their own’ silent film adventure. Each 15-second video offers viewers a choice on the journey they want to take.

 

  1. Use Social Contests & Quizzes

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While this idea isn’t exactly new, it never fails to drum up buzz and it’s a good balance of low risk and high reward. As long as you get the reward right, people will definitely want to share the quiz with their friends.

It also never hurts to offer a large incentive for people to invite their friends to join, such as giving them 5 more contest entries for each friend they invite and 5 more if that friend actually takes the quiz.

BONUS: If you use tools like WooBox or Wildfire to build your quiz or contest, they have this function built it.

 

  1. Persona Marketing

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Every movie and TV show undoubtedly has a character that fans love (or love to hate) and many a campaign has very intelligently played on the audience’s love/hate for the character by creating a persona for the character via social media.

The character of Dr. Sheldon Cooper from The Big Band Theory is a great example. With just over 525,000 fans on Twitter, every single of Sheldon’s quips has the potential to reach thousands of fans, generating hundreds of re-tweets, favorites & comments. It’s great free marketing for the show.

 

  1. IMDB Listings & Advertising

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With millions of people daily looking for information on new TV shows & movies to watch, it’s vital to get your TV show or movie listed on IMDB ASAP.

Be as comprehensive as possible when you fill out the listing for your project. IMDB is a search engine driven by relevance & popularity so the more info you have on your listing; the increase in likelihood that people will find your TV show or film.

 

  1. Utilizing Memes & Other UGC Content

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Memes are a great way to leverage your audience’s creativity to build content that’s highly shareable that subtly promotes your movie or TV show. The benefits of memes are that they are incredibly customizable, easy to share and take literally no time to produce.

A Google search of “Game of Thrones” memes returned over 2.5 million results.  You can also put together caption contests and fan art as user generated content to leverage your audience’s creativity and collective sharing power.

 

Want more publicity ideas for your next TV show or movie? Stay tuned for our upcoming post on the Top 6 Most Badass Publicity Campaigns of all time!

 

Why Publicity Matters Part 2: What a Unit Publicist Can Do For You

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If you read Part 1 of our Why Publicity Matters series, you would’ve received some tips on why publicity is a vital part of any marketing plan for your film or TV show and how you can step up your game.

Now that you’ve gotten an overview of how publicity can help, it’s time to focus on how a unit publicist can help you manage publicity. Producers may do marketing for their films but they often avoid paying for unit publicity. But that’s a critical mistake because it’s a vital component to effectively deliver a movie when it’s sold to a distributor.

When it comes to publicity, you can’t take it all on yourself. Here’s the top 9 reasons on how a unit publicist can help you maximize press coverage for your project.

  1. A Producer ≠ Publicist

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Out of a desire to keep to a budget, a producer may often take on the role of the unit publicist by taking on the social media strategy or scrambling around like mad to gather assets together in preparation for a film festival.

Don’t put your producers through that; let them focus on the production. A unit publicist can help you coordinate the photographer, organize set events and interviews, grab quotes, develop the press kit & monitor social media. Without a dedicated unit publicist, productions simply don’t have the time, resources or knowledge to manage it the way it should be done.

  1. A Unit Publicist Manages Your Assets

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Coordinating a film festival is about more than managing the red carpet. It’s also about making sure all the ‘deliverables’ make it to the studio after wrap. These deliverable assets include approved red carpet photos, behind-the-scenes videos and interviews and full press packages that includes production notes and cast/crew biographies. So who’s qualified to do this for you? It should be someone who knows every frame of your film because they’ve lived through it with you. On larger projects, you’ll need a unit publicist to organize behind-the-scenes footage for marketing, entertain VIPs and conduct set tours to get them excited about the project

  1. A Unit Publicist Crafts Your Image From the Beginning

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Having a unit publicist work on crafting the image of the film from the beginning means that anything you hand to a distributor, a festival or the press, reflects the film in the way you want it to be reflected. From the posters and videos to websites and social media, you can have your material positioned & ready EXACTLY the way you want, ready to hand over to key people.

  1. A Unit Publicist Works Hand in Hand with the Production Stills Photographer

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When you’re working with a stills photographer, his or her focus should be on photography: capturing, editing and uploading the best images. You shouldn’t have to worry about whether a photographer also has the expertise and experience in dealing with producers, talent agents, or studios in order to get the perfect shot. This is where the photographer and unit publicist working together as a close team can open doors. The UP will know which shots are priorities because he or she knows what will be important in later marketing efforts and will make sure the photographer gets the perfect shots.

  1. A Unit Publicist Can Help You Jumpstart Your Social Media Presence
Viral Film campaign for The Dark Knight

Viral Film campaign for The Dark Knight

Even if you’ve already set up the social media profiles yourself, a publicist can help you prep profile photos, develop an outreach schedule and manage social media assets on set. Behind-the-scenes teasers are becoming more and more popular and being able to offer them to your social media fan base is a huge plus. This means you have an audience in place and ready to go when you go to your first festival or get picked up for distribution.

  1. Unit Publicists Keep the Production Secure

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Unit publicists field any and all inquiries from the press, fans, local community organizations, film commissions etc. Due to his/her relationships with the studio, crew & cast, there is little chance any misinformation could be leaked. Whether you’ve got 15 international journalists making their way to the set to interview eight actors or if the studio is requesting a special photo shoot on the first day of filming, these are the kind of things that a unit publicist has the expertise to gracefully juggle, ensuring that all visitors walk away with exactly the impression you want to convey. Plus with daily access to the production, the unit publicist is able to share interesting stories with any press or VIPs during or following production.

  1. Unit Publicists Are Invaluable In a Crisis

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If a crisis incident arises during filming, you’ll need a unit publicist you can count on to field the phone calls and issue statements. When a studio is involved, the unit publicist is the liaison between the studio and the set, informing them of crisis incidents and press requests particularly when shooting is on a distant location.

  1. Unit Publicists Have Valuable Intel

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Production notes written by a unit publicist that’s been on set the entire time serves quite a few purposes. The information is often picked up by the media, whether it’s for a story about the production or a profile on the director. It’s also the unit publicist’s job to make sure the information is being offered to the right media outlets—the ones that speak directly to the specific audience the filmmakers want to reach. A unit publicist will work to foster those positive relationships during the production.

  1. A Unit Publicist Can Save You $$ in the Long Run

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Unit publicists attach assets such as a cover story, magazine spread, or a segment on national broadcast that can mean millions of dollars in media impressions and increase the value and profile of a film. Ultimately this can help save you money in the long run because a unit publicist can work with a photographer to get that special shot on set easily where it would cost a marketing department thousands of dollars to try and recreate it.

Need more info on how unit publicists can help you market your films and TV shows? Keep it glued here for our post on how a Publicist Can Help You Find an Agent!

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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