Hello – my name is Jesse Epstein I’ve launched an audience engagement campaign for the film project BODY TYPED — a series of short films on media and body image.
WET DREAMS AND FALSE IMAGES (Short Subject Jury Award, Sundance Film Festival)
When Dee-Dee the barber learns about the art of photo-retouching, he may never look at his “wall of beauty” the same way again.
THE GUARANTEE(Best Short Film, Newport International Film Festival)
A dancer’s hilarious story about his prominent nose and the effect if has on his career.
34x25x36 (SXSW Premiere, National PBS Broadcast on POV)
A look at mannequins, religion, and perfection.
Trailers are up at: www.JesseDocs.com
This project is being executive produced by:
Judith Helfand, Wendy Ettinger, Julie Parker-Benello
Produced in association with Chicken & Egg Pictures and The Fledgling Fund
The film project was part “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine – and you can read about it here:
Thanks to the support of the Fledgling Fund this campaign is going to include a series of videos called FILMS IN ACTION, a website and game. As I continue, I’ll be blogging about the process and things learned along the way. My overall goal with this project is to use humor to start discussions about media and body image in new ways.
For a great overview of distribution, outreach and audience engagement check out the resources, including a new paper by Emily Verellen on the Fledgling site.
The model outlined by the Fledgling Fund explains a lot of what the goals are for this outreach campaign. It includes getting the films into the hands of activists and educators, and teaming up with other people with like-minded missions, so that the impact can have ripple effects – and so that it’s not up to filmmaker alone.
I’ve realized that shorts can be really useful in a classroom or online, but I am also working on ways to make the shorts play as one piece – but this is not what I’m going to write about here.
And before I explain any of these, I will say that this has been a big experiment and I didn’t necessarily know what was going to happen with online platforms – but I learned some useful tips that would be great for next time. I’ve also been doing this since 2004 and platforms have certainly changed along the way. But here is some info – and hope it is useful for other filmmakers.
Online Film Festivals:
Wet Dreams and False Images was part of Sundance’s first online film festival, and since the films were online, they were accessable beyond the festival itself — which turned out to be a really good way to reach audiences and also get reviews.
The Youtube Screening Room:
After 34x25x36 premiered at SXSW I was asked for it to screen it in the new Youtube Screening Room. Most of the stuff on Youtube was about people banging into trees, and they wanted to reach out to filmmakers and curate some online content. At first I was afraid of having the film get posted online. Nervous about loosing rights, and how this might effect distribution in the long-run, but it turned out to be a GREAT experience.
Maybe it is in part due to the fact the title (thanks to Trish Dalton) sounds like a porn. Or that there was a still with a mannequin boob on it, but the film got a million hits in 4 days, and lots of comments and discussions. It was able to reach people in Germany and Brazil (here’s a link to the video and comments *you might have to go to the second page for most of them: http://www.youtube.com/jessedocs#p/a/u/0/uM-0nUy7Ye0)
And it actually didn’t prevent a broadcast – I just had to set it to private while it was being broadcast on POV.
The POV broadcast, which included being able to watch it online, helped reach a different audience – especially educators. Through New Day Films (http://www.newday.com/films/Body_Typed.html) I released a compilation DVD of all three shorts for educational distribution to coincide with the POV broadcast.
After all these online ventures, It’s true that the film got “pirated” and I would now need to get a lawyer if I wanted to even try to get it offline entirely, but in terms of reaching an audience I might not have had a way to get to in any other way it was a good thing for the campaign as a whole.
Also, using repurposed footage, I did a video Op-Ed that relates to articles on new policies around media and body image in France. This helped to get photoretouchers involved in the discussion.
New Day Films:
New Day is a filmmaker owned-&-operated distribution coop and we launched a digital delivery system for educators. So, the films are also available online for educators through http://newdaydigital.com/
Okay – I’ll be posting in next month about a screening we did in a barbershop…
Over n’out for now.