It’s been one month since the first-ever Social Media Film Festival. It’s also been 15 months since those 4 words popped into my head: SOCIAL MEDIA FILM FESTIVAL. And now after the first presidential debate of 2012 it’s the perfect analogy. Just picture Big Bird saying “Take ‘social media’ and slap it up against ‘film festival.’ What do you get?”
From the moment I typed the domain name into a search site to the last few moments of Lucky Cuss playing us out on the Closing Night party at the Royal House @ The Royal Resort on Sunday, Sept. 9th, it’s been a wild ride to say the least.
So, again, what took so long to write this blog? After the physical event ended there were and still are tasks remaining that have to be done; filmmakers receiving awards, panels to be edited/posted (You Tube, website & FaceBook), photos collected from various sources, press items collected and more and more promotional videos to be edited and posted. I am doing a post-festival campaign of sorts.
On Monday, October 8th, I did a post-festival radio show with The Social Network Show to discuss the festival. Before I can even think about next year, I need to get more videos edited and build up the website. I need to put some sort of press materials together to pitch potential sponsors for a year 2 if that’s to take place.
Those first few weeks I was trying to figure out what exactly would end up being SMFF. Two friends, one from Las Vegas (Kevin Birnbaum) and the other from Los Angeles (Michael McLaughlin) wanted to know if films would be online. Online. Hmm. I did think of that. I thought I’d concentrate on the physical festival venue with films playing on screens. My initial reaction would be that films would be about or using social media. And then my film experience kicked in. Would I receive many films on or about social media in the first year? It’s highly unlikely.
The production company I always wanted to incorporate, IN YOUR HEAD PRODUCTIONS, LLC, finally came together after using the name for all of my short films for the past 20 years. It wasn’t like I hadn’t incorporated before. FENDER BENDER FILMS, LLC in 1998 was for feature film, “RUBBERNECKING.” This time around the company name was all mine and was to be the umbrella for Social Media Film Festival. (DBA)
Now filmmakers needed to find out about the festival.
On October 13th, 2011, I held a launch party at the Royal House @ The Royal Resort just off The Strip that kicked-off both the general campaign and the Indie Go-Go crowd-funding campaign. I joined forces with Kelly and Charisma Schwarze’s Indie Go-Go campaign for their project, Indie Film Factory so we had a good turnout for the party. A band of brothers, two guitarists, called Son of a Gun, played some great Southern acoustic-style rock and we screened some short films as well as Indie Go-Go campaign videos. That party further introduced my film festival and myself to the local Las Vegas film community. The Indie Go-Go campaign added to that globally. The goal I wanted to reach with Indie Go-Go was $6,500. This money would have gone mainly to the venue using a casino as a reference. Well, I raised a little over $1,000. That money went to pay for Withoutabox.com which let me list my film festival directly to filmmakers around the world as WAB is the ‘go-to’ place for both filmmakers and festivals.
A shoutout to my Indie Go-Go contributors!
SMFF had two additional promotional parties at the Royal House on January 5th, 2012 and
March 30th. We had more great bands, the Roxy Gunn Project and Mama Zeus, rock out along with more short films. With every party we tried to keep the festival in the spotlight and the push for sponsorship.
Early on, Rayna Booker from my LV Screenwriters Meet-Up Group joined to assist with acquiring sponsorship. She became a sponsorship coordinator. We implemented various strategies as far as pitching potential companies. After CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, tech companies became the focus. So, I literally handed Rayna the CES directory book and she went into attack mode.
Personally, I am not a salesman. I’ve never been a ‘phone person’ so it’s a hat, a role I have to get comfortable with. With growing confidence in the project, the bolder I got in contacting companies. Initially, I was trying to contact the bigger social media companies, but all I could find on the websites were contact forms. So, I filled out these forms and I’d get a response often weeks later saying they’re passing, etc. This got old quick.
A week after coming up with Social Media Film Festival, I quickly realized that films about or using social media were not going to be the most popular entries in a new unknown festival. So I opened up the themes of the festival to social change and technology. And not before long, in came ‘the documentaries.’
First of all, films came in from all over the world. The official selection of films came from and/or represented China, England, Switzerland, Bangladesh, etc. And soon the festival took on a whole new meaning.
The festival that ‘was’ about films about social media is now a festival about something. Social Media Film Festival became a film festival about how social media and technology can bring about social change. Not every film was going to incorporate social media, but many films would involve Twitter, Facebook, Ebay and Google, etc. And these films would all have something to say about advancing mankind forward. In order to advance mankind or humankind, we the people of this planet need to get on the same page….to some degree.
Before we continue exploring space and other planets such as Mars or Jupiter (as in “THE LAST PUSH”) we need to get the people of Earth to be as one. There are countries around the world that don’t have half of the rights Americans do. There are many countries that don’t have freedom of speech. There are countries that can’t even grasp the concept of freedom of speech. We saw that recently in Lybia. Whether those events were planned or not, there were plenty of protesters expressing themselves about the release of a video by an American and they couldn’t understand why America didn’t prevent the video from being released.
Closer to the time of the event, (April – May 2012) a venue choice was narrowed down and eventually The Mirage Hotel & Casino seemed to be an ideal choice. In order for the festival to be memorable, I felt that a brand name like The Mirage would draw some great attention. The set-up was very good as all the facilities were close together including the screening rooms, the restrooms, a coffee shop and a business center where filmmakers and out-of-towners could access the internet or send faxes if needed. We had a third room that acted as a ‘festival lounge.’ Originally, it was going to be a filmmakers lounge, but the cost of adding food and/or comfortable furniture went way beyond our budget. The meeting rooms were in an affordable range, but it was the cost of the A/V (audio / visual) technical needs for the film projectors, etc. and labor that limited funds to go towards additional advertising and other needs. Insurance ended up being more expensive as well limiting funds further.
The whole adventure had a lot of risk attached to it. So, I decided to go for it and go BIG!
At first, around the start of the campaign, I added Rayna Booker as a sponsorship coordinator. My mother became an additional sponsorship coordinator too since she made many, many phone calls.
My mom was calling local restaurants. And after months and months, one restaurant, DOM DEMARCO’S PIZZERIA, finally came through.
As I finally made a decision on the venue in May 2012, it was time to hire an event coordinator. Yolanda Arteaga and YA Events became an intricate addition and a definite need as our growing team went from on-paper to a reality. Yolanda’s experience and easy-going, mature personality was just the right element that not only held things together when times were tough, but made things that much better and smoother when things were good. At the event taking place Sat. Sept. 8th at The Mirage Hotel & Casino, her work was obvious by how well our volunteers knew where to be at all times, switching out other volunteers on schedule.
A little shoutout to all of the volunteers whom were amazing!
About the same time I came up with this idea around June 2011, I met Chad Plummer who wrote an article about me and my film career and experiences for David Magazine. Since then, Chad has been instrumental in acquiring some PR and assisting in finding bands and one of the venues, the Bikini Bar, where we ended up having our After-Party on Saturday, Sept. 8th. It turned out Chad had known this girl punk band, The Dirty Panties playing there that night. The Bikini Bar happened to be one block from The Mirage so it worked out perfectly.
I collaborated with Mark M. Mellon, an incredible artist I met through RAW Artist Org. on doing the poster with an astronaut. The poster came out so well, I decided it would be the look we’d use for the postcards and the program.
A few months before the event, I met Sam Dever at a networking mixer at The Royal House of all places. He was very excited about the Social Media Film Festival since it encompassed everything he’s involved with; social media and film. Sam with his company, Las Vegas Media Doctors, ended up assisting with SMFF’s needs for social media and also shooting the event as well. Sam has been helping with some editing too. Up until now, I had edited all of the videos over the past year. That includes the promotional parties and the Indie Go-Go campaign. So, it was great to get some help with editing.
Shane Allen did a graphic for a social photo kiosk that was at one of my promotional parties. It was great to have that kiosk then as it was a very nice donation from Rick Williams. Unfortunately, I would have liked that ‘donation’ for the actual festival at The Mirage instead. Again, so much of my money went to pay for The Mirage that I had nothing for anything else. Shane came through last minute to lead the design work on a truly creative project that became the festival program. The idea behind it was to incorporate as much ‘social media’ as possible into the festival. So, in place of websites listed in the program, we placed QR codes. Most QR codes went to websites or FaceBook Pages, etc. There’s so much more detail I would have liked to have incorporated, but time was not on our side. These programs were literally printed on Thursday, Sept. 6th, a day before the Opening Night party and screening. I wanted to have the websites listed in the program as well. I would have also listed all the directors with each film description. Additionally, Shane became the main photographer for the festival weekend.
A little shoutout to both Tina Chapman and her husband for additional photography! Also a shoutout to Robert Supin of Southwest Printers. It was a pleasure working with them.
The LA Team!
Sean & Chris
Before landing in Las Vegas in July 2010, I lived in Los Angeles, CA for 18 years. And for 18 years I was pursuing my own career in filmmaking as a screenwriter and director. Early on, I met a group of friends that support me to this day. I want to point out Sean and Christiane Kinney. Sean not only helped out by being an official judge, but he helped out with the awards too. Sean helped things run smoothly at The Mirage by assisting filmmaker Matthew Pillischer of “Broken On All Sides” Skype into the Social Media for Social Change panel. He also was the moderator for the panel on Visual Effects. Sean has been extremely supportive in all of my film endeavors over the years.
His wife, Christiane, has been very supportive as well. She represented LeClairRyan Law Firm in being the Presenting Sponsor of Social Media Film Festival.
Michael & Molly
Not long after meeting Sean did I meet Michael McLaughlin. Michael soon met Molly and they’ve both been very supportive of my filmmaking career.
Two days before the Social Media Film Festival was taking place at The Mirage, the ‘outside tech’ I hired (to save some money) called me to tell me he‘s taken another job.
Michael, a great friend, who was originally like Sean, was looking forward to kicking back and simply viewing the films as judges ended up helping me make sure the films screened at all. I most likely could have sat there and played projectionist myself, but if anything needed to be handled and Yolanda was busy handling something else, I’d be screwed.
A Family Affair
You could say I’m married to a film career that will take off at some point. Perhaps I’m married to a dream. In any case, Sean, Christiane, Michael and Molly and some other long-time friends are my second family. We’re all screenwriters and/or directors, editors, producers, etc. It was an amazing experience to include ‘my family’ away from LA, in Las Vegas.
SO, TECHNICALLY, THE SOCIAL MEDIA FILM FESTIVAL ROCKED!
I also want to shouout my 2 other judges from LA whom couldn’t attend the festival; Phil Hwang and Rhoderyc Montgomery. They too are filmmakers I’ve known for many, many years.
Without my parents, Social Media Film Festival would not be possible. PERIOD! If there is a second year of SMFF it will be up to sponsors. We did not have nearly the amount of financial funds from sponsorship to cover the cost of being at The Mirage and all other related costs. Some financial sponsorship came in the last month or so. Whatever money I had from recent jobs went into the festival. Some family and friends of family helped out a bit. My parents covered the rest. OYE! I am very lucky to have them.
What was SMFF About?
Not that a film festival has to be about ‘something,’ but I’m glad that mine CLEARLY did.
There was a common theme in many of the films at this first year of Social Media Film Festival. It was mentioned perfectly in the Opening Night screening of “TWITTAMENTARY” when one man in the film suggested, “Can Twitter change the world? No, but people can.” With more and more people using Twitter, FaceBook and You Tube, there will be more immediate events that will change and transform the world for the better. The Arab Spring took place in Egypt and elsewhere mainly because the internet shared information about the world that changed how Egyptian people saw themselves. The Chinese people are getting their voices heard most recently as they’re unhappy and think their freedoms could be better.
Porter Erisman’s “CROCODILE IN THE YANGTZE” explored a Chinese company, Alibaba.com, taking on Western giant eBay in a battle over China’s internet. During the panel on Social Media for Social Change, Porter talked about how the Chinese love using social media. They have their own version of Twitter as the Chinese government won’t allow the real Twitter or other real social media platforms to run freely inside the country.
The Social Media for Social Change panel hit on many subjects about things changing around the world for the better because of technical advancement especially using social media.
Joey Dumont, Producer of “THE NAKED BRAND” talked about how smart phones are the greatest tool to gauge products at Wallmart and other stores simply by using apps that give you straight facts about them. Social media is changing the way large companies and corporations advertise. You can’t lie to consumers any longer. Transparency is the new advertising. Dumont gave a fantastic Keynote.
A shoutout to Sara Gabriella for moderating the Social Media for Social Change panel!
The Visual Effects panel tackled how independent filmmakers can take advantage of motion graphic tools as they are becoming more easy-to-use and more affordable. Filmmakers don’t need to hire big FX companies to do expensive graphics if they can do it themselves or pay someone next to nothing.
A shouout to Patrick Rodriguez for his participation in traveling to Vegas and being on the panel for Visual Effects. His participation meant a lot to me.
An additional shouout to filmmaker and FX artist Jerry Thompson for representing Las Vegas.
It was not only a wild ride, but a very expensive one. If there is to be a second year, more sponsorship in the form of ‘money’ needs to happen. I don’t know what the common people of Las Vegas including local filmmakers know what it is to put on such a complex event such as a film festival. Film festivals are very technical to begin with. And I created a niche festival all about technology. What was I thinking?
A lot of work went into this film festival. It takes a lot of work to put this type of event together. There is a PR person, marketing, advertising, a blogger, website builder, submissions administration, sponsorship people, photographers, videographers, etc. You take the resources and the help when you can. It’s very difficult to juggle all of this yourself. I have no regrets and would love the opportunity to do this again.
Thank You Sponsors of SMFF 2012!
LeClairRyan, Final Draft, Inc., Smile Designers, Entertainment Pro Insurance, YA Events, Dom DeMarco’s Pizzeria, Mark M. Mellon, CarmelloVision, Las Vegas Media Doctors, TweetBeam, Indie Film Factory, The Bikini Bar, The Royal House, usr/lib and The Mirage.
Thank you Friends of the Festival!
Documentary Club & LV Screenwriters MeetUp Groups, Industry Happenings, LoveGrub food truck, Nevada Film Office, Customistic, Vegas Pens, Yelp and SOS 2.0 Prods.
Thank you to all of those that helped in any way!
Ross H. Martin
When I believe in my heart and soul that I’m a part of a great project I put everything into it. The article in The Review Journal on Friday, Sept. 7th began: ‘Ross H. Martin can’t walk away from a good idea.’
“Bringing King to China” 85 mins.
“Broken on all Sides” 68 mins.
“Crocodile in the Yangtze” China 75 mins.
“Face2Face” 110 mins.
“The Naked Brand” 56 mins.
“The Real Social Network” England 76 mins.
“This Space Available” 86 mins.
NARRATIVE FEATURE FILMS
“InContact” USA /Israel 84 mins.
“The Last Push” 89 mins.
“Acht Blumen (8 Flowers)” 30 mins. Switzerland
“Chorebot” 9 mins. Texas, USA
“Crossing Hispaniola” 20 mins. Dominican Republic
“ExamiNation” 21 mins. South Korea
“J.A.M.E.S.” 7 mins. England
“The Miracles on Honey Bee Hill” 20 mins. Tennessee, USA
“Restoring Sight in Bangladesh” 12 mins. Bangladesh
“The Rules” 8 mins. England
This episode of Revolution with Brian Solis interviewing David Batstone, co-founder and president of Not for Sale, focuses on how social media is a strong platform for raising awareness and creating social change. Social organizations need to adapt to technology in order to further their cause.
It is a great example of the ideas surrounding Social Media Film Festival.
After a year of forming the idea, incorporating In Your Head Productions, LLC, promotional parties and an Indie Go-Go campaign, we are at the point of judging the films. Today, Sat. June 23, 2012, I’m sharing the festival films submitted on DVD with my judges in Los Angeles. It should really be interesting as we have such a variety of great films. All together we have roughly 60 films. A few films that made the Final Deadline are still being mailed in.
Withoutabox has made the submission process easier and more organized.
Filmmakers whose films are accepted will be notified some time mid-July.
It’s a very exciting time and we look forward to seeing this unique film festival take shape.
The festival is taking place Sat. Sept. 8th at The Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV and on Sun. Sept. 9th at a venue TBD.
We hope you can attend.
On the very day of the Final Deadline of film submissions, it’s my pleasure to announce:
Social Media Film Festival will be taking place Sat. September 8 to Sun. September 9. The first day will take place exclusively at The Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.
Day 2 will take place at a location to be determined.
Follow, Tweet, Share, + this to the world!
On March 30, 2012, Social Media Film Festival put on it’s 3rd promotional party. Rock band MAMA ZEUS rocked The ROYAL HOUSE! We also screened a short film by Ben Zuk called “Love on Saturday.” Yelp shot glasses quenched our thirst. Getting the buzz out on SMFF. Being Social. Going Global!
This is a speech given at The Royal House on March 30th, 2012, about Social Media Film Festival and how people can participate to help the festival develop a team and gain the sponsorship funds it needs to make the festival happen.
This is a video of my first experience at CES. It definitely won’t be my last. I had a blast! If you’ve never attended CES you must go next year.