Seven things I learned at Sundance and one thing I left
cross posted to New England Mamas & Snapshot Chronicles
You'll have to go to film sites like Movie City News and Cinematical for reviews of the films, and Entertainment Weekly or E!Online for the star sightings and gossip. I was only in Park City for a few days, and mostly involved in work for my client's party. Saw only one film, CSNY Déjà Vu, and only a handful of celebrities. But I did learn a few things that I thought you'd appreciate.
1. Do not park in front of 7-11, buy a few things and then go have lunch. Even though it's not marked a Tow Zone, you are very likely to get towed. The person driving our car (not me) was understandably upset, but it could happen to anyone. And probably did. Apparently towing is big business in Park City during Sundance due to the extreme lack of parking.
2. Sundance Film Festival merchandise goes on sale the last full day of the Festival. I could have saved $10 on the ball caps I bought the day before.
3. Films start on time. Events at Harry O's generally do not. From my experience, you can add an hour to the stated time that doors will open. So, for example if you are planning to eat at the ChefDance dinner, which "starts" at 8pm, and get hungry around 5pm, you can safely have a good-sized snack because you won't see the first course until 9ish and the entree at 10, 10:15 pm.
4. UGGS are lovely but if you are limited on suitcase space, pack your waterproof boots instead. Luckily, I knew that one going in and had mine.
5. The walk from the Eccles Theatre to downtown is about 2.5 miles on a lovely walking trail. If it is warm enough (30 degrees was fine), it's worth it for the lovely views of the mountains. You'll also see a local landmark, a tree chock full of shoes, that's been there for at least 20 years according to a resident I met on the path.
6. In addition to being extraordinarily talented, the folks in the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band are absolutely delightful and down-to-earth. If you like the blues, I highly recommend Shepherd's recent documentary and album, 10 Days Out: Blues From The Backroads. It was nominated for two Grammys and when you watch/listen, you'll know why.
7. CSNY Déjà Vu is a superb film. If you like the band, even just a little bit, and do not like our current president, you'll probably enjoy the movie. If you think Bush has done a great job in Iraq, on the other hand, you probably won't, even if you normally like the band. I loved the film. Draw your own conclusions.
Oh, and the thing I left? My voice. I came home with a cold that nearly qualifies as laryngitis.
Notes of the Urban Bluescross posted to Snapshot Chronicles
I haven't been posting here too much because I have been jamming to bring up two new client blogs, a podcast and doing media & blogger outreach for Electrified: The Story of the Maxwell Street Urban Blues. Hopefully after Sundance, things will settle down a little bit and I can get back to ruminating about marketing topics.
In the meantime, if you'd like to follow the action at Sundance and the big Electrifed party at Harry O's on Friday with Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Hubert Sumlin, you'll find me over at the film's new blog, Notes of the Urban Blues. Friday, I'll be interviewing Phil Ranstrom, writer/director/producer of Electrified at the HP Broadcast Studio, and during the party Friday night (and into the wee hours Saturday morning), we'll try to get some clips up in near real-time. I'll also be live-tweeting so please feel free to follow me at twitter.com/sgetgood. And don't worry, I won't be hurt if you follow me just for the weekend and then unfollow :-)
Notes of the Urban Blues was designed by the very talented Leslie Doherty of Swank Web Style.
Sundance will be "Electrified"
I mentioned in last week's post about Torchwood that I would miss the first episode because I would be at the Sundance Film Festival, and promised more information this week.
I'm going out to the Festival to support a new client, Maxwell Street Documentary, at the premiere of the film, Electrified- The Story of the Maxwell Street Urban Blues.
The film will be launched at a party at Harry O's in Park City next Friday January 25th. In addition to the screening of the film, there will be a live performance by acclaimed blues guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd and blues legend Hubert Sumlin. Actor Chevy Chase will be master of ceremonies. Fender has also donated a limited edition “Electrified” guitar that film executive producer Les Walgreen will present to online auction house Charity Buzz for an auction to benefit The Center for Environmental Education Online.
I'm doing media/blogger outreach and developing a blog for the film. If you are going to be at Sundance on the 25th and would like to come to the screening, email or Twitter me.
Electrified tells the definitive history of the Chicago blues. Narrated by actor Joe Mantegna, the film chronicles how the urban neighborhood of Maxwell Street created a unique environment of commerce and cooperation that led first to the hard-driving sound of the urban blues, and ultimately to rock and roll. Interviews with many of the legendary bluesmen who “studied at Chicago’s Maxwell Street school of music,” including Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Charlie Musselwhite, Jimmie Lee Robinson and the “father of rock and roll” Bo Diddley, complement the film’s historical narrative and create an exceptional history of this important era in American music.
A companion film, Cheat You Fair: The Story of Maxwell Street, documents the last days of the historic Maxwell Street market. It premiered to critical acclaim at the Chicago International Documentary Film Festival in April 2007, and is scheduled to be shown at the Amnesty International venue at Sundance January 18-20 and the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago on February 2.
Both Electrified and Cheat You Fair were written, directed and produced by longtime Chicago resident and Emmy nominated producer Phil Ranstrom who began the projects in 1994 shortly before the Maxwell Street market was demolished.
We've put some short clips from both films up on YouTube. They are all great, but here are my two favorites:
"We come up the hard way..." Uncle Johnny Williams on how the blues were born
Eddie "Jewtown" Burkes performing "Step It Up And Go"
Cleaning out the cupboards
I really do have some awesome posts planned, just no time to write this week. So instead, I thought I'd clean out my virtual cupboards of some goodies for you. Don't look for a theme, these truly are "small pieces very loosely joined" (nod to David Weinberger.)
First, some science fiction. Torchwood begins its second season on 1/26 on BBC America, and a few more trailers have surfaced. Official trailer. Two scenes from the first episode. Warning: As Twitter pal Dave Parmet and I discussed yesterday, Torchwood is DoctorWho with the naughty bits (his words) and without the most annoying David Tennant (mine). In other words, expect to see some adult relationships of all sorts in the show. And on these clips.
Battlestar Galactica is (finally) due back in April, and spoilery bits are starting to surface on YouTube. Here's the latest one.
Now, unfortunately, I will not be able to watch Torchwood on the 26th because I will be at the Sundance Film Festival. Tough break, huh. I'll have more information for you on Monday, but the short version is, I have a new client who is premiering a film during the Festival and I will be going out for the launch party on January 25th.
Speaking of Sundance, be sure to check out HP's Backstage At Sundance blog. Longtime readers will recall that I helped develop this blog two years ago. Last year, they started featuring videos of impromptu performances by musicians attending the festival, a tradition I believe they plan to continue this year.
BlogHer Business and New Comm Forum are both fast approaching. At BlogHer, I will be speaking, including a case study from a client project. More on that when the agenda is published. At New Comm Forum, I will be moderating an "Alumni" Panel during lunch on the first day. We are inviting attendees from previous years to share a social media/ new communications project or campaign that applied the knowledge they acquired at New Comm Forum. The criteria are pretty simple:
- you attended a previous New Comm Forum;
- your project was done sometime in the past 18 months and you are free to share information about it;
- you've never spoken at a previous New Comm Forum.
If this sounds like you, contact me at email@example.com or twitter.com/sgetgood.
Finally, colleague and friend Kami Watson Huyse has a great post today -- an interview with John "Pat" Philbin, the senior communications person who took the heat for FEMA's fake press conference last fall. You can read it on her blog or listen to the full interview at For Immediate Release.
My virtual cupboard is now pretty bare. Meatier posts next week. Promise!
A spectators-eye view of Sundance: Interview with blogger/artist Evelyn Rodriguez
I was lucky enough to have a long chat last week with writer/artist/saloniere/marketer Evelyn Rodriguez about her visit to the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.
Evelyn used to live in Salt Lake City, and attended the Festival many times as a spectator. She now resides in San Jose, California, and described this visit -- her first since 2003 -- as the first time she attended the Festival as an artist.
Among her many projects, she is working with Click.TV, an online video company that develops tools for video annotation, commentary and social interaction that make it easier to search and engage with segments of interest. "For instance, in a day-long congressional hearing, you can jump straight to the part that's on the bill that you're tracking. And then join in on an online interaction discussion at that timestamp about the issue."
She went to Sundance to find out what was up in the world of film, and most particularly video. She hoped to meet other people who were exploring the alternative medium of digital video. Even a low budget film costs at least $1 million, she said, but video is a different, more accessible world, with fewer barriers to entry. "I met people that teach a No Budget Film School, people working on social microfinancing to finance films, and people helping to film-makers self-distribute their films. I walked out of the X-Dance film, "Chasing the Lotus" ready to buy a DVD. There's got to be a way to capture that impulse."
She was somewhat surprised that when she told friends and acquaintances that she was going to Sundance, many replied they "don't go to Sundance anymore" because it is too commercial. While she agrees that the Festival has changed -- for example, she doesn't remember quite so many corporate lounges, which now effectively take over the Main Street storefronts during the Festival, she felt that Sundance still had something for everyone, from the avant garde to the nearly mainstream. And the fact that so many companies want to be associated with the Festival adds value; she cited two examples that enhanced her Festival experience: the Krups Café co-sponsored with Salt Lake Roasting Company at New Frontiers on Main which showcased video art installations, multimedia performances, panels, and a digital microcinema, and the Adobe/HP equipment demonstrations/workshops.
This year, Sundance has really embraced social media -- Second Life, YouTube and iTunes among other things. We talked at length about whether more people are or will now be aware of independent film as a result of blogs and other social media. Or I wondered, is it more a case of the "long tail" chasing itself?
Evelyn suggested, and I think she's on the right track, that perhaps in our age group (we are both in our early 40s), the same people are likely to be engaged with social media and interested in independent film, but in younger groups, say mid-20s, social media like YouTube et al are reaching a much broader, diverse audience. The fact that a film is classified independent may not even matter for the younger folks, who will just recognize that they saw something cool that they liked on a friend's MySpace page or in a YouTube clip.
Arin Crumley of "Four Eyed Monsters" grassroots indie fame was videoblogging Sundance this year on behalf of the Festival. While behind camera taping the Social Networking panel, he added how he'd engaged with Flickr, YouTube, MySpace, blogging and everything at his disposal to promote the video. Said Evelyn: "They even had visitors to their website vote for cities to show the film assuming if they had critical mass they could arrange a screening. One of the six 'cities' was Second Life. I myself watched "Strange Culture" at the New Frontiers microcinema while the film was simultaneously premiering in Second Life." She said the Q&A with the director and with subject Steve Kurtz of Critical Art Ensemble alternated between the live audience and the SL theater avatars.
Evelyn and I also discussed how social media is starting to change HOW we will see films. The only way for an artist to get his or her work seen won't be the local movie theater, whether it is the local 10 screen Cineplex or an art house. Only 120 films last year got theatrical release across the nation. Distribution business models are on the cusp of change. Online alternatives, the growth of digital video and the possibility of interaction with the story are blurring the lines between artist and audience. Stories won't necessarily have a beginning, middle and end, or even a script. For example, David Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE was shot 100% in digital video, and the script was written scene-by-scene as the taping unfolded. And Lynch is distributing it himself.
You also don't need a film school degree or expensive equipment for decent digital video. Evelyn believes that we will see more and more "regular folks" using video to tell interesting, impactful stories. While making a documentary film has been a lifelong goal, it didn't seem feasible to her until now. Soon, she'll embark on a digital video project that will start shooting in post-Katrina New Orleans in late February. She's also exploring the idea of communities, colonies, ensembles, collectives, and Salons of artistic creation -- bringing dancers, theater directors, writers, filmmakers, videographers, sculptors, social media visionaries and all sorts of people together in real as well as virtual space, to see how they stretch one another and push the edges of what's possible in social art and social video. "Online video feels like the earliest days of cinema to me. When people were so enthralled by its novelty, as one audience member said at the Web 2.0 panel, that even a clip of someone sneezing was engaging. So these are pretty exciting times to be exploring this medium."
And in the end, isn't that what Sundance is really all about? Inspiring us to share our creative vision with the world through the medium of film and moving pictures.
To read more from Evelyn, check out her blog, Crossroads Dispatches.
3-30-08 Comments closed due to spam attacks
I'm Backstage at Sundance
In case any of you were wondering where I've been for the last week, and warning, where I am likely to be much of next week as well, I'm Backstage at Sundance.
Well not literally of course. I'm covering general news and monitoring the blogosphere for interesting Sundance tidbits for the HP blog, all from GetGood Strategic Marketing world headquarters in Hudson, Mass. But as we all know, there's only so much time to blog in any given week, so for the next little while, most of my writing will be over there, not here. And of course there's lots of great Sundance blogging from the folks on the ground at the festival -- film reviews, press conference reports, celebrity sightings. Be sure to check it out.
A few things I definitely want to note for my marketing and PR readers. I posted yesterday at Backstage about how Sundance is really embracing social media. In the last two weeks, they announced deals with iTunes and YouTube. Starting Monday, folks will be able to purchase short films from this year's festival on iTunes. And on YouTube, there's going to be a Sundance Channel section with all sorts of Sundance content -- festival coverage of course, but also clips from programming and so on. Not to mention the festival screenings being held in Second Life. More details and links in my post over at Backstage at Sundance.
HP is trying something new with the Backstage blog this year: "En Español." Many of the general posts as well as posts of interest to the Hispanic audience will be translated into Spanish. From HP Hispanic Marketing Manager Kathleen Haley's post today:
... we will have the most exciting entries about the festival, as well as specific entries that are relevant to the Hispanic market and our Hispanic readers -- whether that be a celebrity sighting, a great movie (Padre Nuestro or Summer Rain directed by Antonio Banderas) or a big event. Keep coming back to see the latest on HP and Sundance en Español!
Finally, regular readers know how strongly I feel about donating to charity, early and often. Friday at Sundance, actor Kevin Bacon announced a new charitable initiative that plays off the well known game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Together with Network for Good, Bacon has created sixdegrees.org, a charitable community in which celebrities and regular folks alike share their favorite charity. When you donate to someone’s charity through sixdegrees.org, you can display a “badge” from the person whose charity you supported on your Web site or blog. Linking us all together by doing good.
HP Snapshot Diaries Contest
More client news.
As part of its Sundance activities, HP is holding a photo contest called Snapshot Diaries. Entrants submit 6-10 related photos with captions that tell a story. The winning entry will be turned into a short movie by film director Matt Pope like this one.
Grand prize is a trip for two to Sundance 2008 (airfare, hotel and event tickets), and there are three great runner up prizes of HP gear.
From January 20 to February 20 on the Sundance Channel, you'll also be able to see Snapshot Diaries from eight Sundance Film Festival attendees -- actors, filmmakers, volunteers, agents, publicists -- who will document a day in their life at the Festival using an HP digital camera to create "snapshots."
I'm doing blogger outreach for the contest, focusing on parents and film aficionados. Spread the word :-)
Sundance, New Communications Forum and BlogHer
Whew. The holidays are over, so we can get back to work. And sanity. I still have some thoughts to share on the "Microsoft Vista-Edelman-bloggers get PCs" brouhaha of last week, but haven't had time to pull it all together the way I'd like as a commentary, so stay tuned for that.
However, I realized this morning that I have a bit of blog housekeeping to do. A few events that I am involved with are approaching, some faster than others, and I haven't said much about them. Until today.
First, the Sundance Film Festival is coming up later this month, and once again I am helping HP with the Backstage at Sundance blog. The blog is just getting restarted with previews of the Festival and should be in full swing by the time Sundance starts on January 18th.
In March, I am speaking at two conferences. First, on March 8th, I'll be leading a session on Viral Marketing at the New Communications Forum in Las Vegas (March 7-9 at the Venetian). We still need case studies, good and bad, for the discussion, so if you are planning to attend, and have a project to share, there is plenty of room for one or two people to join us in the hot seats. Just email or call me.
Then at the end of March, I am doing a couple of things at BlogHer Business in New York City. On Thursday March 22, I'll be doing a blog case study interview with small business blogger Shirley Frazier and on Friday March 23, I'll be part of a session on blogger relations. And there is a whole lot more going on at the conference, so I urge you to check it out before early bird registration ends this month.
HP Auction Results and Thanks
The HP Auction to benefit Habitat for Humanity ended last night. Top portraits in the Auction:
- The Police (by Kevin Mazur), winning bid $1025
- Jessica Biel, $640.16
- The Beastie Boys, $505
- Terrence Howard and Lucy Liu, both at $455
- Kevin Smith, $405
HP is matching the winning bids on each portrait, up to $1000 each.
A huge thank you to all the fan site, forum and list owners who helped spread the word to their fellow fans. In particular, we are extremely grateful to Jessica Biel and www.jessebiel.com for including the auction in two emails to her fans.
And my personal thanks to blog pals, old and new, for mentioning the auction:
- Toby Bloomberg, Diva Marketing
- Elisa Camahort, Worker Bees
- John Cass, PR Communications
- Mack Collier, Beyond Madison Avenue
- Yvonne DiVita, Lip-Sticking
- Maria Niles, Fizz from Consumer Pop
- Betsy Palmieri, Contrary Valley
- Robyn Tippins, Practical Blogging
NOTE: June 3, 2007 -- Comments and Trackbacks closed on this post due to comment spam.
Browster Promo, HP Auction, Presidential Potshot
From blog pal Elisa Camahort (Worker Bees), news of a Valentine's Day contest from her client Browster. Originally conceived of as a local contest for a V-Day dinner at a chic San Francisco restaurant, the company realized that dinner at a restaurant eliminated anyone not in the Bay Area. So it added three iPods as prizes. Well done! Check it out!
Three days left in the HP Charity Auction to benefit Habitat for Humanity. Lots of people are checking it out, but the bidding is slow. Please take a look -- if someone you know is in the market for an HP Photosmart printer, you might be able to get it at a good price, and help out a deserving charity. Plus you get a neat signed WireImage photo of a celebrity that you can keep or give as a gift or re-auction for that matter. Some of the celebs: Aaron Eckhart, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Keener, William H. Macy, Al Gore and Terrence Howard.
Finally, tip of the hat to BL Ochman for the Dick Cheney Quail Hunt game. Nuff said.