The Seed&Spark Blog

#StayIndieTour Diaries: 3 Lessons, Many Strong Opinions

November 6, 2014

• Emily Best

(To be fair, this really should be called "The BBQ Diaries.")



Erica joining up in Houston.


After Nicole and I took the Southwest and Texas, Erica flew down from the Flyway Film Festival and we met up in Houston. Since then, we've been going at a rate of almost one class per city per day for the last…(what day is it?) 11 days! The purpose of this tour is to teach and to learn, and we have been learning SO MUCH about the incredible storytelling communities there are all over this country, what they need, how they differ, and how they can be reached. We’re learning about our audience as we are teaching about how to learn about your audience. We like things to be really meta around here.


A couple of things we have noticed:

1.     People do not frequent the social media platforms you expect them to.  You might assume all the young people are on instagram, for example, and if you ask a room full of college students in Phoenix – they are! And if you ask a room full of college students at Mizzou, they’re mostly on twitter. While we’ve always taught that you can’t make assumptions about a demographic, it’s really interesting to see it play out in this way. You must approach your specific audience with incredible specificity, reaching out where they actually are (which you know because you have asked at least some of them) as opposed to where you like to hang out or where you think they are based on the latest social media report you read.

2.     Regional festivals are THE place to be. You will never get the opportunity to rub elbows with Dan Guando from Weinstein at Sundance like you do at Indie Memphis. You will also never get to meet the people in Memphis who are the most important word of mouth recommenders of film in their cities. And this is true at Flyway Film Festival, at Austin Film Festival, and at Citizen Jane. (These are top of mind because this is where we’ve been most recently!) You’re also not standing outside in lines waiting to get into places you find out you’re not allowed. The atmosphere is incredibly welcoming, the parties are incredible, the BBQ is…everything.

3.     Filmmakers feel crowdfunding fatigue. They have done it, they have failed, they have watched others succeed and fail, all their friends are doing it…they often dread it. (They forget, too, that if you don't work in the arts, you aren't inundated with crowdfunding campaigns.) However, the feedback after the Crowdfunding to Build Independence workshop is that filmmakers feel total reinvigorated around crowdfunding, they understand why they may not have succeeded before, and they understand that ALL FILMMAKING IS CROWDFUNDING. Whether you are getting “funding” from people watching your film or from using a platform to gather contributions to cover the cost of production, all money that’s made from films comes from crowds. So if you focus on the FIRST word in the compound word of CROWDfunding, the net benefits will last much longer than just a single project. We had a former startup growth-hacker approach us after the Austin Film Festival class and say, “I can’t believe I hadn’t thought to apply anything I learned from the startup world to building my audience as a filmmaker.” And until then, we hadn’t thought about what we teach that way, but our class focuses on filmmaking as entrepreneurship and the tools for successful crowdfunding as audience growth-hacking.

4.    We have strong opinions about BBQ. So far, the best brisket is at Lonnie Rae’s in Harrisburg, Missouri and their Gooey Butter Pie (New Yorker's would know this as "crack pie") came to the table still almost too hot to eat. The best ribs are at Roper’s Ribs in St. Louis (a mom and pop shop to be SURE). The best beans were at Goode Company in Houston, TX (all the meat here was pretty fabulous also). The best clientele was at Rendevous in Memphis. Our favorite waitress was at Folks Soul Food in Atlanta, GA. The best hotel has been the Moonrise in STL. The hands down best Halloween experience we may ever have in our lives (but one we plan to replicate every year starting now) is the Wild Rumpus in Athens, GA. If you're following #stayindietour, you've already seen all the photos. If not, some included hereIMG_1578_0.JPG

Lonnie Rae's Ribs. Harrisburg, MO. No, it doesn't look like much, but...




Roper's Ribs. We couldn't even get it together to photograph it first...


The Moonrise Hotel, STL.


Yum. (Thank you, Melvin Harris, for taking us here!)


Everyone goes to Rendevous in Memphis. You have to be blessed to wear white safely at this place. #bold


H.I. and Ed. These are the sorts of incredible costumes you get at the Wild Rumpus in Athens, GA.


Emily Best

Emily and Erica are on the #stayindietour until November 20, 2014...this year. Next year's is already in the works!



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