Vision Maker Media Producers Workshop and NAMAC Conference

Vision Maker Media Producers Workshop and NAMAC Conference

Chris Bashinelli was born an raised in Brooklyn, New York. After a half-decade acting career including a role on The Sopranos (HBO), Chris moved to Tanzania.

Date Posted: 
2012-09-25 00:00

Blog Series:

The Vision Maker Media producer workshop opened by eyes in more ways than one. We’ve been working on Bridge the Gap to Pine Ridge for almost two years now. The film started as a web series, then it blossomed into a 1 hour program for potential distribution on PBS Plus. Now we have been given a green light for distribution on the National Programming Schedule. Once I received word that we would be broadcast on the NPS, I sort of figured we would not need to do any promotion on our side of the equation. The Vision Maker Media workshop helped me realize how wrong I was, and opened my eyes to what is possible.

First and foremost, publicity is the responsibility of the producer. The NPS time slot will help with coverage on a national scale, but doesn’t have too much to do with how many people will tune in to the actual program. The 30 second teaser does impact viewership, but there are many more ways a producer can promote his or her film. Vision Maker Media helped me to realize the importance of creating publicity in magazines, on like minded blogs, through film critics, on social media, and maybe even on local TV stations. Most importantly, this workshop taught me that it’s crucial to give at least 3 months notice to publicity outlets. I thought we could reach out to marketing avenues a few weeks before our premiere date, now I know that is not a smart thing to do at all.

The second truly valuable portion of the conference for me was with NAMAC. I attended several sessions, but the most valuable was the Grantmaking Speed dating session. Many grantmakers have strict guidelines of when they accept proposals, and most have turnaround times of up to one year before the film is funded. This is a real disappointment for me, and one that was shared by some of the funders. The representative from NEA stated how she felt it’s crucial for foundations to have a faster turnaround time in order to fund truly innovative projects. If turnaround times are too slow, the idea might be taken by another entity, or might never be executed.

I have the possibility of having a limited series of Bridge the Gap on PBS. In order to do this I’ve got to raise over $500,000. Surprisingly, I learned at this conference that there are not many funders who can award that type of money, even with the time slot being provided by PBS. This event has once again shown me that the Television world moves slower than I’ve anticipated. Although I am confident that I will be able to raise the money to film this program before the end of 2013.

Here are the specific and most valuable takeaways for me during the conference:

  • Allow 3 months for publicity on any PBS film

  • Do not expect the time slot or carrier to do the work for you

  • Explore multiple avenues such as print, TV, radio, blogs, and social media for promotion

  • It’s crucial to get educational content on PBS Learning Media

  • Make sure to be honest as a filmmaker, especially as a non-native. Because natives know the truth about whatever story is at hand. If you don’t know something, or you mess up, ask for forgiveness, and be up front.

  • Always Network! I met some great contacts from the Sundance Institute, Public Enemy artist Hank Shocklee, and representatives from various foundations including NEA.
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