I was flipping through the Atlanta Business Chronicle a week ago and ran across a story about a local production company, Green Valley Entertainment (GVE), which (at least for a brief moment) was stepping outside of the industry-centric publication rounds and into the spotlight of Atlanta’s conventional business community. Interestingly, this article focused on lesser-known writing partner Steve Antczak instead of the higher profile front-man, producer/director Michael Valverde. Writer Rachel Tobin Ramos focuses her article on GVE’s business plan and how GVE hopes to employ innovation and hustle to compete with Hollywood’s muscle using a mix of old-school distribution techniques, targeted audience blitzes and viral internet campaigns. Ms. Ramos resists being a simple booster for GVE by citing the problems associated with these marketing techniques, referencing existing studios like Troma Entertainment that already employ similar techniques.
Since providing some fake newspapers to one of GVE’s productions a year or two ago I began paying attention to the company, to learn everything I can from the example they’re setting and the accomplishments they’re making.
Every craft tends to separate its artists from its artisans, its visionaries from its workmen. Hard science fiction author Larry Niven once wrote an article about how fellow author Kurt Vonnegut had escaped the “science fiction ghetto” to become recognized as a “real” author by the rest of the literary world. In essence, its a similar goal that Valverde and Antczak are hoping to achieve in the business of filmmaking.
Having secured a distribution partner, GVE is now directing their marketing efforts toward attracting investment capital from the conventional business world to allow them to expand into acting as a studio instead of as a simple production company. Take a click on over to Green Valley Entertainment‘s website and take a look at their trailers.
But hang on Junior Trumpsters of America, don’t crank open your wallets just yet…
Here’s the deal:
ALL indie filmmakers rely on viral marketing campaigns because they can’t afford anything more.
The problem is, these viral marketing campaigns don’t work unless you have a dedicated army of fans already in place, set to join your cause with vim and vigor, and good luck on that kids because getting people fired up about your project is made all the more difficult because there are hundreds upon hundreds of itty bitty productions out there, all of them seeking your support. A few weeks back I commented on author/producer/director Josh Whedon’s ‘Firefly/Serenity’ project, specifically on how energetic he has been in marshalling his fan base toward the promotion of the film. Here he is, a big successful film/TV producer with several successful television series under his belt and yet he’s working his ass off to rally the troops. How can anyone who isn’t a known entity drive a critical mass of fans to purchase a product?
Hard work and Good Product and (here’s the hardest part yet) a Strong Portfolio of Past Work. That last one’s the ass-biter for anyone who is trying to leverage themselves up out of the low-budget ghetto of horror filmmaking. Take a look at the products on GVE’s horizon (from their website). None of the ideas are revolutionary, but they’re all eminently doable. It all comes down to execution.
In Green Valley’s case, the review for the World Premiere of “No Witness” by Creative Loafing’s reviewer Curt Holman’s was less than flattering:
But that review and others like it haven’t stopped Valverde and Antczak. Since “No Witness” they’ve produced (and secured distribution for) the erotic thriller “Sex & Consequences” starring Corbin Bernsen and Joan Severance and are busy at work in Romania on a vampire thriller, distribution reportedly already in-place. Good show guys.
The lesson learned is that distributors aren’t looking for art, they’re looking for product – and I heartily salute businessman Michael Valverde for being canny enough to provide the product they’re seeking. By breaking the product out into a numbers game to the investment community at large GVE stands to profit nicely from its endeavors.
Sometimes the boring approach is the best way to get a business on its feet.
Anyone who knows anything about the film industry knows that you couldn’t put your money more at risk by investing in low-budget films, but Valverde and Antczak are certainly bucking to defy the odds. Take a look at what they’ve made so far and make up your mind as to whether you want to put your money in their trust.
The only question that Your Pal Drew has is: when will Green Valley be able to afford to add art to their films?