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On SnagFilms Acquiring indieWIRE

On Tuesday, our stalwart independent film news site indieWIRE turned 12 years old -- the filmmakers who graduated from film school this spring were about ten years old when we started. It was also the day that we signed the deal to sell indieWIRE to SnagFilms, the new Ted Leonsis venture launched today focused on "filmlanthropy". We've got our reaction to the announcement at indieWIRE and industry press like Variety and Hollywood Reporter (as well as many others) are starting to weigh in as well.

For most of our history, publishing indieWIRE has been part of the regular duties of every GMD Studios staffer. That's going to change, but in every other important way indieWIRE remains exactly the same -- it is just armed with more resources to tackle the issues that face the independent film community. That's the reason why this deal made sense, after so many prior suitors didn't. We're more focused on this as a mid-point, not an ending: the ten-year-olds running around today that decide to go to film school will graduate around 2020, and it is time for the community to start envisioning the independent film movement we want them to inherit from us.

A ton of thanks are in order, though, working backwards from the recent to foundational. We're deeply thankful for the sage advice, counsel and representation of Micah Green of Creative Artists Agency, as well Glenn Adams and John Dierking of Holland & Knight. There have been other critical patrons for indieWIRE through the years that deserve thanks for help making indieWIRE what it is, including the fine folks at Apple Computers, the San Francisco Film Society, the Independent Film Channel, Kodak, the Sundance Institute, Emerging Pictures and BlogAds. There are also a tremendous number of indieWIRE staffers, current and former, who's fingerprints are all over indieWIRE, including folks like Wendy Mitchell, Anthony Kaufmann, Tim LaTorre, Mike Jones, Diane Becker, and Jonny Leahan. At its genesis, though, indieWIRE was a small, passionate and unpaid core of collaborators who spilled their own blood to make it happen: Eugene Hernandez, Mark Rabinowitz, Karol Martesko-Fenster and Ken Tabachnick.

And at the core, the real people to thank are the community that participates in indieWIRE -- indieWIRE's vibrancy is a reflection of the community's passions, and everyone else we thanked are just a subset of that. Collectively, the independent film community can feel proud of indieWIRE's work for the last 12 years and thrilled by what the next 12 might hold. I know we are.

There Are Stranger Ducks Than Us

Sometimes, we're kinda pleased with how odd we are. Then our next door neighbors scare the crap out of us by blowing something up Mad Max style. Today, they went after the mailman's truck with a rocket launcher, as this truly unretouched picture from our parking lot proves:

Fortunately, the mailman is on to their tricks, and so are we.

2007 Undiscovered Gems Winner

This year, Emerging Pictures and indieWIRE bring you a year-long series intended to discover some of the best films from the previous year that never found a distributor. This year, the winner of the audience award for Undiscovered Gems included a $50,000 broadcast license from The Sundance Channel and a $50,000 distribution fund with Emerging Pictures -- David Muno, Director of "Full Grown Men", looked downright surprised at the award luncheon yesterday. Congratulations, and keep your eyes open for "Full Grown Men" in your area (including your cable box.)

iW Critics' Poll Reactions

With the full-list of film picks from 106 film critics' now up on indieWIRE ("There Will Be Blood" was the runaway favorite) , the reactions are starting to roll in. GreenCine called it "one of the major events of the cinematic year," the Sun-Times said "this is going to be a Netflix list," and SlashFilm is asking "WTF?" about critics (we all do sometimes.) Our own analysis of the poll continues today at indieWIRE.

39 Clues Revealed

We spent a good part of 2007 being vague about one of the product development projects we worked on. Yesterday, our friends at Scholastic's Lab for Informal Learning got some great press in the New York Times about the project, called "39 Clues" (an ambitious children's media experience that's years in development.) I imagine we'll hear alot more buzz about "39 Clues" in 2008, and we were flattered to spend time with their extended team and amazing ideas.

Collaborator Canned!

We're always pleased to hear when our clients get a little recognition for their work, even when it is among their internal peers. Campbell-Ewald Associate Creative Director Iain Lanivich recently got a pile of just that kind of internal praise, with "Who is Benjamin Stove?" getting recognized as Best of Interactive and Alltel's My Circle (including the faux lawsuit) receiving the nod for Best of Integration and Best of Show in their internal awards judging. Iain also picked up Creative of the Year and a trip to the Cannes Film Festival to boot, which means some félicitations are in order!

Ford Bold Moves Wraps

After nearly two hours of video coverage, sixty articles, 160 buzz entries, hundreds of comments and millions of viewers, the Ford Bold Moves weekly documentary project draws to close for our first year. Jonny Leahan gives a good wrap-up on the journey of the last 30 episodes, as does Mark in his own buzz-flavored way. As a body of work, it is a pretty impressive (even if it is not beyond critique) collaboration into uncharted territories.

At the end of long campaigns like this we traditionally like to say thanks and congratulate the teams that have worked so hard together. In the case of a massive campaign like Ford Bold Moves, that list would end up in the hundreds -- so some special thanks to our collaborators at Ford, JWT and @Radical, followed by a more detailed list of credits for the GMD Studios side of the team (affectionately dubbed "Team Conversation").

Ford Bold Moves Documentary Partial Credits

Client: Ford Motor company
our special thanks to Mary Lou Quesnell, Sonia Shrank, Dan Bedore, Whitney Drake, Jim Cain and Emily Prokop as well as the whole team at Ford

Agencies: JWT New York and JWT Detroit
our special thanks to Beth Waxman-Arteta, Brad Carse, Rich Martinek, Sam Walsh, Ty Montague, Bob Jeffrey, Toby Barlow, Stuart O'Neil, Jim Rossow, Laura Favorito, Roxana Petzold, Andrew Prysby, Bob Doppel, Dan Przekop, Jason Yoder, Jennifer King, Jennifer Haines, Courtney Norwicki, Erin Bonivier, Leslie Baird and all the team in New York and Detroit

Video Production: @radical.media
our special thanks to Rachel Dawson, Tim Mack, Bruce Sinofsky, Joe Berlinger, Christopher Green, Len Carter, and all the team over @radical.

"Team Conversation" - GMD Studios
Creative Director: Brian Clark
Operational Direction: Tammy J. Kearns
Operations Assistant: Lisa Hope

Marketing & Syndication Team
Trailer & Marketing Design: Jim Rhoades
Additional Design Development: Chris Campbell, Jamie Miller
Syndication Management: J.D. Ashcraft
Tracking Collaborators: Meme Science
Syndication Collaborators: Feedburner

Editorial Team
Publisher: Jonny Leahan
Managing Editor: Jeff Heilman
Buzz Editor: Mark Rabinowitz
Assistant Editor: Paul Boyers
Contributors: Jillian Alexander, Sebastian Blanco, Jeff Bressler, Eric Bryant, Peter Frey, Kate McLeod, Sue Mead, Mike Millikin, John Neff, Holly Reich, Robert Walberg

Buzz Tracking Team (New Media Strategies)
Supervisor: Lisa Aragon
Team Buzz: Christal Cipriani, Kaitlyn Wilkins, Mike Vallebuona, Aaron Earls, Pete Snyder and the team at New Media Strategies

Congrats to "Four Eyed Monsters"
This week was the culmination of the eight-month long expanded indieWIRE Undiscovered Gems touring festival of undistributed films with Emerging Pictures and New York Times -- with the presentation of the 2006 Sundance Channel Audience Award to Susan Buice and Arin Crumley's "Four Eyed Monsters" (they actually look happy about it.) Full release here -- congratulations to everyone involved for a great tour, and expect more again next year!

Time to Make More Grease
I'm normally somewhat resistant to flattery, but must admit to casting a blush when finding out at the indieWIRE Anniversery party that both Eugene Hernandez and I made Paste Magazine's "Arthouse Powerhouse" list. We clocked in at #5 on their list of "Arthouse Wheel Greasers" between Col Needham of IMDB at #4 and David Strauss & Joe Neulight of Without a Box at #6. Thanks for the kind praise!

Alltel Lawsuit Madness

What's more fun than a juicy tell-all lawsuit? Maybe staging a faux lawsuit against yourself for comedic purposes. Overlawyered sniffed out the joke first, but Andrew LaValle gave them the tip of the hat when he got the scoop for the WSJ.

Who Is Benjamin Stove?

For the last four months, a tangled mystery unfolded online involving crop cirlces, a strange painting, childhood letters, ancient civilizations, libraries ... and ethanol. The "alternate reality game" (a part of GM's Live Green Go Yellow initiative) brought together a tremendous group of players (the Tinfoil Hat Posse) with a tremendously bright team and a visionary sponsor (and I like to think that the production explored some interesting new textures on how ARGs can happen inside of community and storytelling.)

Immersive narratives take great teams of creative people working together in new and unusual ways, and the team for WIBS is a great example of that (mixing smart folks from agency Campbell-Ewald with both commercial and grassroots alternate reality gaming designers.) Congratulations to all of them for their tremendous tenancity and creativity: ARGN and Unfiction are kind enough to be hosting a chat with many of the people on the team Thursday April 13th at 9PM EDT where they'll finally get some time out from behind the curtain. Our special thanks, though, go to the wonderful players of the WIBS community and to GM for the spirit of innovation they helped to foster in interactive storytelling.

"Who Is Benjamin Stove?" Credits

Created by: Campbell-Ewald -- Stefan Kogler, Kevin Omans, Chris Scinta
Story & Development: Stefan Kogler, Kevin Omans, Chris Scinta, Rod Weston, Iain Lanivich, Brian Clark, Dave Szulborski, Jim Gunshanan, Brooke Thompson & Justice Mitchell

Development/Production (Campbell-Ewald):
Creative Director: Stefan Kogler
Lead Art Director: Kevin Omans
Lead Producer: Iain Lanivich
Painter: Brad Fairhurst
Additional Designers: Dustin Davis & Adam Ball
Account Manager: Steve Debano

Development/Production (GMD Studios):
Creative Director: Brian Clark
Lead Art Director: Justice Mitchell
Puzzle Development: Dave Szulborski
Website Development: Jim Rhoades, Jamie Miller & Andrew Cowan
Lead Writer: Jim Gunshanan

Tucker Darby (face): Brad Fairhurst
Tucker Darby (writer): Jim Gunshanan
Sarah Randall/Debunkette (face): Christine Wilson
Sarah Randall/Debunkette (writer): Brooke Thompson
Benjamin Stove (face): Chris Zientek
Benjamin Stove (writer): Rod Weston
Tucker's Mom (writer): Brooke Thompson
John Gald (voice): Iain Lanivich
John Gald (writer): Jim Gunshanan
Mysterious NYC Stranger (face): Scott Denny
WiFi Cutie: Lynnette Reed


Our 10th Sundance

As the 2006 Sundance Film Festival winds down this weekend, so does indieWIRE's 10th annual extensive Park City coverage, including the tremendous series of interviews with Sundance competition directors. indieWIRE was frequently lumped in with the bloggers (which we don't mind at all), but we were up to other things as well behind the scenes.

At a party we held at the VW Lounge (run, coincidentily, but our buddies at Crispin) with our dear friends at the San Francisco Film Society, we announced a bit more about our new co-venture to cover the San Francisco independent media scene in greater depth with a new brand, SF360 (more here and here.) The always-charming folk at SFist were the first to write about the plans and some of the technology.

More quietly the next morning, we gathered with our collabortors from Emerging Pictures and the California Film Institute to work on our expanded plans for the Undiscovered Gems film festival for this year, based upon indieWIRE's annual list of the best undistributed films.

We also got a chance to see many of our friends and collaborators that we wish we could hang out with more frequently, and met a bunch of great new folks (including our intrepid Utah interns and our condo-mates from Paste Magazine, of whom we're great fans.) Hats (probably left-over schwag) off to Eugene, Brian, James, Jonny, Amy & Meg and the rest of the indieWIRE crew for another amazing year of covering Park City!

H3ist Awarded "Best In Show" at Mixx

The "The Art of the H3ist" campaign (which so dominated our attention earlier in the year) won a number of nice awards at the IAB/AdWeek Mixx Conference -- including a Gold for New Product Launch, a Gold for Online Integration, a Silver for Viral/Word of Mouth, and the Best in Show award. Congratulations to Audi, to agency McKinney-Silver and to everyone involved in production (including the players!) for the much-deserved recognition. You can view a great timeline of the campaign at this mini-site put together by McKinney to explain the piece.

What do you do on Sunday nights?

Okay, you know you really like ARGs and fans when you agree to participate in a live phone chat at 10PM on a Sunday. It should be a blast, though, almost as much fun as ARGfest gathering later this month (or the Smirkbox interview yesterday). Details on Sunday's chat at the ARGN announcement (thanks, Steve!)

This Convention is Not A Game

Sadly, I wasn't at E3 this week, but it sure looks like Virgil Tatum made the rounds. Actually, alternate reality gaming was popping up all over the place. News that these two posts herald the collapse of all reality is probably just hyperbole.

RSS, Cluetrain & A Sense of Humor

So my first day at the Syndicate Conference was much more than I thought it would be. I've got at least a half dozen new topics to think about, I got to finally meet some people I've had extended online dealings with, and I have a bunch more interesting partners to explore.

Even in a convention full of odd ducks, the panel with Beth Kirsch and Henry Copeland was still an odd one. I'm not sure people were prepared to think of ad space as "places you have secured the rights to syndicate to" as a metaphor. But then, I was surprised how few hands went up when Beth asked if people had read the Cluetrain Manifesto ... about 5 hands out of 60 people, and that's counting one person who was one of the original signers.

Beth read them the first five points and claimed it summed up the whole concept of conversational marketing:

"1. Markets are conversations.

2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.

3. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.

4. Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.

5.People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice."

But in that abridged version, I still think you need numbers 20 and 21:

"20. Companies need to realize their markets are often laughing. At them.

21. Companies need to lighten up and take themselves less seriously. They need to get a sense of humor."

And I've always had a soft spot for #29:

"29. Elvis said it best: 'We can't go on together with suspicious minds.'"

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