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Cat Toys are the Key

USC students visit Post No BillsToday’s class involved a field trip to the offices of Post No Bills, which is a creative agency that generates imaginative promotions for clients including movies like Shrek, Disturbia, National Treasure 2, and Madagascar.  It’s inspiring to know such inventive campaigns are born right here in South Carolina.  Our tour of their building was like walking through a toy store for grownups with all of their nifty promotional knickknacks on display.

Doreen Sullivan, the owner of PNB, spoke with the students about how she started the business and explained the types of things they do for clients using plenty of fun show-and-tell examples.  She stressed the importance of presenting an intriguing package in promotional mailings, even down to the container.  She also talked about identifying the taste makers and targeting them, since those are the folks other people listen to. 

When we told Doreen our movie had a cat in it, she started firing off ideas about promotional items and campaigns almost faster than we could write them down – catnip, lint brushes, cat food, collars with bells, even a catwalk with models wearing cat ears – and this was all off the top of her head.  She mentioned how important it is to involve as many of the senses as possible and suggested we go to a pet store to immerse ourselves in the cat aisle to see what ideas it sparked.  So many fun things to think about!

Doreen did point out that our title might be too much of a downer, and that some people might be turned off because it sounds like a sad movie from the start.  She suggested we change it to something more catchy or intriguing.  Brian’s latest idea is Kitty Killed My Granny.  So what do you think?  Keep Saying Goodbye or go for something else?  Any suggestions for a new one?

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What’s the Plan, Man?

Jennifer Warren on marketing a filmBusiness plans and marketing plans and strategic alliances, oh my!  Today we attended a workshop by Jennifer Warren who is a New York based film consultant for independent content producers and media companies.  The SC Film Commission has brought her on board to help us with marketing and distribution strategies for Saying Goodbye.  She came to class yesterday to speak with the students specifically about our film, and then today she gave a general presentation on marketing and strategy to filmmakers from around the state.

Jennifer’s talk was chock full information, such as: identifying goals for your film, researching your target audience, creating a business summery, and devising action plans for advertising and promotion.  And that was all before lunch!  The most daunting thing we learned?  All this should have been done before shooting the film.  Oops!  On the positive side, even though we hadn’t typed up formal reports, we had at least discussed most these things and had them in mind while filming. 

After lunch, Jennifer conducted three different Skype sessions with filmmakers: Sally Rubin and Jen Gilomen (Deep Down), Clay Liford (My Mom Smokes Weed), and Thomas Woodrow (Bass Ackwards).  They talked about their experiences making their films and getting them out there for people to see.  It was extremely helpful to see the similarities and differences between the three experiences and hear what had and hadn’t worked for them.  A big thank you to the filmmakers who answered audience questions and so generously shared what they learned the hard way.

Jennifer got our brains buzzing about all kinds of different things we can do to promote our film and different audiences we can target with various marketing spins.  And she was so fun and easygoing that we can’t wait to work with her more as we get ready to put some of these strategy and distribution plans into place. 

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Saying Goodbye to LOST

Lost PromoWe've been fans of LOST since the beginning, so when we found out about a promo contest for their final episode, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to participate. We promise we're not procrastinating - we're practicing for making the Saying Goodbye trailer.

As part of the contest, ABC uploaded a bunch of clips from LOST which could be used to make the 35 second promo. After looking at all the clips (about 100 times), the perfect idea popped into Jocelyn's head... Saying Goodbye. It's a subtle way to cross promote our film and a great title for what we are sure will be the prize winning promo.

Although voting doesn't count until the next round of competition, we wanted everyone to get a first look at our promo. So click the link below and "practice" giving us 5 Stars. We'll keep you posted if (I mean when) we make it to the finals!

http://lost-promo-contest.abc.go.com/published/8739

 

 

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Oscar Buzz Heats Up Again

SNL Death CatThe Academy Awards are just a few days away, so speculation about who’s winning an Oscar is running rampant.  We aren’t in contention this year, but look out 2011 Academy Awards!  In the meantime, we are far more interested in a different Oscar discussion. 

Dr. David Dosa, who introduced the world to Oscar the death-predicting cat in his essay for The New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, has now written a book called “Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat.” With the release of the book, the media is fascinated with Oscar all over again, and he’s been showing up everywhere: morning shows, Reader’s Digest, People Magazine, USA Today, and Seth Meyers even mentioned “the death cat” on SNL's Weekend Update.

When we first read the articles about Oscar, his streak was around 26, but now he is at over 50 accurate predictions.  The best part of reading these articles is seeing all the comments left by people who have similar stories about other cats and even dogs that are sensitive to when a person is near the end of life.  Animals truly are amazing. 

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Focus on Saying Goodbye

With the second cut of “Saying Goodbye” burned to a DVD, it was time to put it in front of a real audience. That’s right, the dreaded focus group.

We entered the room with butterflies in our stomachs and nervous smiles plastered across our faces. After a quick prayer to the film gods that the audience would not become an unruly “Saying Goodbye” hating mob, we pushed the play button.

Things were going great until about five minutes in when the film pixilated and froze cold. After many failed attempts to get past the digital hang-up, we decided to bust out Cliff’s laptop and play the movie directly from the edited file… luckily it worked! We hope that will be our first and last screening glitch - better now than at Sundance, right?

When the movie was over, an eerie silence filled the room… no clapping, no excited chatter, not even a sob or a sniffle! Where was the standing ovation, the throwing of flowers, the request for an encore?

…And then applause. Phew!

The open and honest discussion that followed was extremely helpful, and it solidified our concerns about some of the rough patches we’d already identified. All in all, the focus group really liked the movie, and they had some great suggestions for making it better. We really appreciate the feedback and thank everyone who participated.
 

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Make new friends, but keep the old

Students from Spring SemesterToday we met with the students who are in the second semester class for our project.  We have three students from last semester: welcome back Amanda, Fred, and Kasey!  We also have another familiar face joining the class: Dick White one of our brave, brave poker players.  And then we have three new students: Cassie, Karmen, and Matt – we’re happy to have you aboard the team!

The focus of this semester will be on editing and marketing.  These aspects might not be as “glamorous” as the actual filming, but are vital to the success of any movie.  As part of that, we’re running a contest for the students from both this semester and last semester to see who can build the most buzz for our film.  Good luck, y’all!

 

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Saying Goodbye to Carrie Reeder

Carrie ReederIt is with great sadness that we relay the news of Ms. Carrie M. Reeder’s passing.

Ms. Reeder was a resident at Agape Senior and lived on the hall where we did the majority of our filming. We’ve mentioned before how generous the Agape residents and staff were to us, but none were kinder than Ms. Reeder. Her perpetual smile and cheery attitude made her a joy to be around. She was always eager to show off her own modeling photos from earlier in her life, and the cast and crew enjoyed her stories of a life well lived.

The last time we spoke with Ms. Reeder, she was proudly sporting her SC Film Commission t-shirt.

Ms. Reeder passed away on December 29. She was 89. Our condolences go out to the Reeder family.
 

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Putty Gone Bad

As you may know, highly anticipated movies are often delivered to theaters with false names to maintain secrecy.  Since Saying Goodbye is such a highly anticipated flick, Cliff delivered the rough cut to us with the label, “Death Cat 2: Putty Gone Bad.”  With great eagerness, nervousness, excitement, and even a touch of nausea, we popped the DVD into the player to watch it.

It was a surreal experience watching our movie for the first time.
 
There’s the complete shock of “Holy crap, that’s our movie on the TV!” 

There’s the slight feeling of panic that it doesn’t 100% match the movie we’ve been carrying in our heads since day one…

… followed by the feeling of relief when we realize it doesn’t matter because this version is just as good. 

There’s the utter joy of “Oh my God, we actually did it!”

And then many other emotions swirling around our buzzing brains.  It’s hard to image how it’s going to feel watching it in a movie theater up on the big screen.

 

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Happy Holidays from Death Cat

Here's a special holiday surprise from Death Cat Entertainment. May 2010 be a great year for us all.

Don't be fooled by this super-cool animation, Saying Goodbye is actually a live-action drama.

Set for release in early 2010, Saying Goodbye chronicles an elderly woman's last year of life in a southern nursing home, while a cat with mysterious powers accurately predicts the deaths of her fellow residents.

This short was funded by the SC Film Commission's Production Fund, a program designed to pair students with professionals in the film industry.

Read about our adventures making the movie or see the fun for yourself.

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Road Trip!

Concentrix StudioWith a small break between the end of filming and the start of editing, we decided it was time to meet with the man who will be scoring our film.  So we grabbed Cliff for a road trip up to Charlotte to meet with Fred Story and his team at Concentrix.  Walking in the door of Concentrix was eerily similar to walking into Genesis.  Both Fred and Cliff love what they do and have built offices and studios to reflect their passion and creativity.  Both buildings have vibrant, beautiful rooms and other clever touches that make them ideal places to work.
 
During our meeting with Fred and sound designer Anthony, we could tell we were in good hands.  Fred seemed very excited about the project and had lots of thoughts on how to use music to enhance the viewing experience.  He even had an idea on how to make Gabriel’s presence felt in places where we weren’t able to get our ideal cat footage - give Gabriel his own theme like Darth Vader or Friday the 13th's Jason.  We vote for using the Jaws theme when Gabriel enters a room - that would certainly change the flavor of the movie.