Summertime and the livin’ is Easy (Except for Indie Films!)

So apparently this has been a rough summer for independent films. You know, the low-budget, little gems that many of us prefer to the formulaic blockbusters. The filmmakers are fretting and debating whether to simultaneously release films to theaters and as video on-demand. I don’t know if that’s the answer, but I have to admit that I haven’t been to a movie in months. And that’s primarily because having survived the arctic winter, I relish every opportunity to be outdoors this summer. So is it all about the weather?

A few thoughts for our indie film friends:

  1. Keep producing your wonderful stories; there will always be an audience for the unofficially branded “independent films.”
  2. You have serious competition from the solid productions being produced by Netflix, Showtime and others. But binge-watching a series is a completely different experience.
  3. The seasons may faithfully repeat themselves, but just because it worked last summer doesn’t mean it will work this summer. Pay attention to more than the calendar as you plan your release schedules.
  4. Make better use of grassroots marketing. So many decisions are made based on peer reviews (think Rotten Tomatoes). Maybe offer more sneak previews or opportunities to develop a trusted peer-to-peer fan base that can advocate on your behalf.

If you’ve been to a movie this summer, you probably disagree, but maybe you didn’t spend your winter in the Northern tier of the U.S.! As for me, I hope some of the Sundance standouts are still around when I return to the theater on a rainy weekend or in the fall!

Movie Theatre

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Take a look around…

Years ago, I remember attending a presentation by a National Geographic photographer who advised us to “take a look around” and literally turn away from the obvious photo subject to consider other perspectives. And, he promised, a better picture would emerge. Applause to Bowdoin Museum of Art for taking a look around, and instead of assembling a predictable exhibit of home state Maine’s glimmering seacoast, their gallery show is titled “Night Visions” and showcases works of art representing the mystery of darkness. The show spans several centuries and features mixed media – vintage photography of NYC evenings, a rich array of paintings, woodblocks and sculptures, culminating with a 21st century video reminiscent of Hitchcock’s “Rear Window.”

Although visiting museums may not be on your “must-see” sights while vacationing on the Maine coast, think of this detour as a way to avoid sunburns or outlet shopping. This little museum does not charge admission, by the way (donations warmly accepted). Just sharing a little carmen sense; hope you get there!

Bowdoin Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine
Bowdoin Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine

Branded or Not

I’ve been in the marketing and communications field for almost 20 years, which means I spend a lot of time talking and writing, and thinking about brand experiences. I’m excited to launch my blog to hopefully have some new conversations about these topics. I’ll also weave in personal anecdotes here and there, and look forward to hearing from you.

So here’s the first of those branding stories. When we were house-hunting years ago, a charming 100-year old home caught our attention. Yet, there was one very visible issue – there was a sign hanging from the porch. Yes, this was one of those houses with a name. We were unsure if it reminded us of a bed and breakfast, or just seemed overly pretentious, but the bottom line, was although we loved (and ultimately bought!) the house, that sign just didn’t make sense. Except that it did.

We quickly learned that the house was named by the original owners to honor their homeland. And over the years, there has apparently always been a sign on the porch. So the sign was a brand name of sorts and reflected history and habit. It was the real deal, so we’ve kept it, understanding that it’s an element of the local community and offers a sense of place.

I tend to make decisions quickly, but I’m always willing to give things time to work themselves out. In this case, I’m glad that we did. I’m excited to talk about brand experiences and to learn from yours. Welcome to “Its Carmen Sense.”