Drug Dealing for Film

posted Jul 21, 2011, 8:36 AM by Steve N Bradford

That is right, Event Videography is like the pot of the film world.  First I come and I shoot a single event for you and then the next think you know you are smoking crack out of a DVD case.  And by crack I clearly mean promotional videos, performance reels, and DVDs of your creative work.  And by smoking I mean putting into a DVD player.  At least that is how I 'hope' it works out.

Right now I am playing pusher to a bunch of theater companies in the Capital Fringe Festival.  I have provided them with some videography services they never knew they needed on the cheap.  It means I get to see a whole bunch of great shows at no cost to me, and it also means that I am filling up that new 2 TB hard drive I just bought a lot faster than expected.  This year the deal I have cut for a lot of theater companies is that for nearly free I will come in to their show and film their performance.  I collect the footage for them and provide them with them in an electronic format so they can do whatever they would like with it.  This makes great fodder for future fundraising, remounting of shows, advertisement for the show and for the theater company as a whole, as well as providing a small reel for the creative minds involved in the production.  (I would not suggest an actor use this as part of a film reel, film and stage productions are VERY different things.)

A great deal of the success of a show (especially when it is a part of a HUGE festival like Fringe where there are a lot of alternatives) is a result of the Marketing Machine.  Its not just about making videos, but handing out postcards, putting advertisements in the right places, landing radio interviews, the whole gamut of self promotion.  Obviously not everyone can do all of these things, cost and ability might prevent it.  However, anything you can do to promote your show you should be doing.  This is why I was really surprised to see that of roughly 160 shows that are a part of Fringe this year in DC, only 10 of them decided to put together a video promo.  Maura Judkis, a writer for the Washington Post, has compiled them together in her blog.  I strongly suggest taking a look at them and seeing what worked and did not work.  The promotional trailer I produced for 'Tales of Courage and Poultry' is included in that lot.  They have been taking footage of their shows for a couple of years now and so when the time came to make a promotional video they had a ton of stuff to work with.

So why haven't the other theater companies done the same?  There are a number of reasons.  First they are really busy trying to put on their show and a lot of times anything that could go wrong, does go wrong.  Taking on the extra work of producing and distributing a video seems like an awful lot of effort when you are already spread thin.  Additionally it requires equipment, editing software, and a skill set which they might not have.  All in all its a battle that is usually not worth their time.  Unless they are lucky enough to know someone who can do it for them on the cheap.

So film and video would never have entered the radar of many theater companies.  But if someone comes to them and offers to do it very cheaply for them, what have they got to lose?  Now they are hooked, or so one can hope.  They get to see how video can help them and realize it should be something they plan to use from day one.  Are they just going to want a video documentation of their show?  Well that would be nice... but why not step up to make it even more useful.  Make that fundraising video, and that promotional commercial, and then provide a DVD of the show to donors.  The crack, heroin and PCP of the video promotion world.

Thats my method right now anyhow.  Make some contacts with some of the most fantastic groups in town, give them a leg up.  And once that leg up pays off, keep them hooked on the services that got them there.  Plus, I get to meet a ton of great performers and technical people who maybe will work with me on my own projects one day.  At this point I am really happy with how this model is working out.  And I really hope that none of the people reading this are in DC and going to start doing the same.  If you are... pretend you did not read this.  Maybe I should not be posting all of my plans for potential success in such an open and public place?  Maybe I should just keep them on Facebook and Google+.