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CapitolTV: Mandatory for Fans and Marketers

In News & Media, Sci-Fi on October 23, 2014 at 8:35 am

Watch CapitolTV. It’s mandatory.

Lionsgate is ramping up publicity with a new video marketing campaign for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I” in the final month before the movie’s Nov. 21 release date.  After the numerous trailers, TV spots and teasers for the penultimate Hunger Games movie, Lionsgate did something different to capture fan attention without overexposing the movie.

There are 3 big reasons CapitolTV is awesome (I’m not being forced to say that, either).  It enhances the series with world-building, it celebrates YouTube and it embraces viral marketing to reach the film’s key demographic.

Check this out:

District Voices harkens back to the propaganda theme of earlier trailers.  The new campaign reinforces the movie’s trailers and, in a subtle way, tells the reader what to expect when they get to theaters in November.

Mockingjay was the most politically complex book of the series.  Transferring context for page to screen is tricky.  Building the atmosphere ahead of time will allow the movie to flow faster and focus on plot.

If you watched the video above closely, you may recognize some big name YouTubers such as Threadbanger.  Lionsgate (AKA The Hunger Games marketing team) acknowledges a cultural shift in how people – not just Millennials – consume media.

But CapitolTV spots don’t just star YouTubers.  They celebrate them.

Watch Closely:

Where was the video located on YouTube?  I’ll give you a hint/answer:  the District Two spot, starring YouTuber and self defense teacher fightTIPS, is uploaded on his channel then saved on a CapitolTV playlist.

The placement acknowledges that fightTIPS and other CapitolTV guests aren’t just performers. They’re creators.  Uploading the video to a YouTuber’s channel is a tip of the hat to the people who make YouTube such an interesting and entertaining community.

This is great because it increases movie exposure to a population segment that might not have tuned in otherwise.  District Two’s video on fighting skills highlights the action you’ll expect from Mockingjay Part I, targeting viewers who are obviously into defense and fitness.  District Eight’s video is about DIY crafts and costuming, an aspect of the movies that some viewers really enjoy.

That’s also why you won’t see a CapitolTV video posted to the Vlogbrothers channel.  Nerdfighters didn’t need any motivation to go see this movie.

Top 3 Reasons to Practice Story Pitches in J-School

In News & Media on February 25, 2014 at 9:20 am

Pitching stories to editors or potential clients is nerve-wracking. It’s the writer’s equivalent of asking someone out: “I like this topic and am interested in how it affects the community. I think you would like my idea, and this could be the start of a great relationship among colleagues. Also, please don’t crush my soul.”

Part of the reason story pitches are stressful is because they aren’t emphasized enough during college.  Professors focus on teaching journalism skills, but few classes discuss practicalities like pitching story ideas.  You need to practice this skill on your own.  Here are three reasons why:

Your editor will love you. No, seriously.

college newspapers, college paper editors, tips for student journalists,College is the perfect time to practice pitching stories because college newspapers exist in a special dimension where editors actively look for new stories and enthusiastic reporters.

College papers suffer from the opposite malady as non-collegiate papers. Sometimes there aren’t enough reporters available to cover potential stories (thanks, midterms), and on a few rare occasions there legitimately isn’t enough news to fill the paper.

The combined surplus of stories and lack of reporters means that it’s a writer’s market on college campuses. Editors really do want to hear from you – mostly because it makes their job easier but also because it shows you are invested enough to be reliable. In the realm of flaky college students, even one reliable reporter can be a lifesaver.

It prepares you for the real world.

When I attended J-School I thought being a paid correspondent for the college paper was practice enough for the real world. My editor gave me two assignments a week, which I juggled between classes, an internship and a commute. Sometimes she asked me to take on a third story, which I accepted or rejected based on my stress level. The experience was pleasantly hectic and fulfilling, but it didn’t prepare me for the competitive reality of professional writing.*

*I say writing but could just as easily be talking about photography, videography or multimedia storytelling.

In the real world, editors don’t sit around waiting for journalists with free time. They don’t have a magical surplus of leads on their desks waiting for the right person to happen by. They won’t call to ask whether you’re interested in a story (unless you’ve proven yourself or it’s a breaking story and the usual guy came down with a spastic colon).

Why not?

breaking news cycle, 24-hr news cycle, new media and journalism, fast-paced journalism

Because it isn’t their job to make sure a writer wants to write. It’s assumed. You wouldn’t be in journalism unless you had well conceived and relevant stories to pitch.

It isn’t the ’90s anymore. With rapid communication and breaking news happening every minute, there is no such thing as a slow news day. There is too much news to cover and not enough money to cover it. If you are lucky enough to be a staff writer, your editor will be irritated that you were too lazy to think for yourself.

If you’re a freelancer, asking for a story is like asking for a handout from someone with other mouths to feed. Meanwhile, your competition presented a compelling case for an in-depth look at how the economy affects the city’s homeless shelters.

You’ll expand your skill set.

With the competitive job market for journalists, young reporters can’t ignore the advantage a wide breadth of knowledge provides. Anyone can cover a coastal storm, but the reporter who understands oceanic mixing may deliver a more nuanced account of why it was stronger than usual. Tech skills are important, but knowledge will never be overlooked.

journalists are curious, college student journalists, J-school tips, how to survive J-school,

Although the fields vary from campus to campus, colleges are ripe with innovation and thought leaders. As a journalism student, you have almost unlimited access to the latest research by faculty and visiting speakers.

Is there a subject you’re interested in but don’t want to spend credit hours laboring through? Did a campus speaker stoke your curiosity? Pitch a story to your editor. I once pitched an article about campus crosswalk safety because I wanted to know more about New Jersey’s pedestrian safety laws. I got the idea from a daylong Bike/Walk Safety Symposium, but that’s beside the point.

Television Diversity & Why We’re Lucky to Have YouTube

In Movies/TV, News & Media on February 6, 2014 at 8:05 pm

I had the opportunity to catch up with one of my best friends over Skype last week. Among other things (the futility of Tumblr Savior and the craziness of shipping wars), we discussed diversity in recent television shows and the importance of representation.  Suddenly she stopped, frowned and said,

 “Seriously, though. Where the Asians at?”

where is the Asian representation?, media representationsI am always surprised by mainstream television programs when I emerge from my self-created television bubble, and her question gave me pause. Where is the Asian representation in TV? I ran through some shows off the top of my head and came up with just 10 Asian and Asian American actors and actresses:

  1. Lucy Liu, in Elementary
  2. John Cho, in Star Trek & Sleepy Hollow
  3. Daniel Dae Kim, in Hawaii 5-0 (formerly, Lost)
  4. Yunjin Kim, in Lost
  5. Grace Park, in Hawaii 5-0 (formerly, Battlestar Galactica)
  6. Reggie Lee, in Grimm
  7. Osric Chau, in Supernatural
  8. Steven Yeun, in The Walking Dead
  9. Masi Oka, Hawaii 5-0 (formerly, Heroes)
  10. Arden Cho, Teen Wolf

This list is based on shows I’ve actually seen, which means it is limited (I am open to additions! Leave a comment below). Still, I’m sad that I can think of so few actors after a week – and even fewer actresses. The bottom line is that Asian American actors make up a tiny percentage of characters played on traditional television.  Here’s the excuse why:

If the Formula Isn’t Broken, Don’t Fix It.

The traditional TV formula is about race and the power of advertising revenue (Today, I’m not touching Hollywood’s racist history with a 23-foot pole). Advertisements support air time, so TV shows become more lucrative as the audience grows. When a theme (singing/dance/talent competitions) takes off in the public eye it spawns similar products with the idea that the formula for success can be studied and reproduced. American Idol begat America’s Got Talent begat The X Factor begat The Voice.

Basically, if the formula worked once (i.e., it was popular) it will work again.

First of all, this is a terrible investment strategy that overloads the market with cupcake reality television and procedural crime dramas. Any other business plan would tell you to diversify your investments when the money is rolling in. It protects the business from market collapse and funds the growth of smaller, more innovative ventures.  Somehow, Hollywood hasn’t gotten this memo.

Secondly, anyone can tell at first glance that Hollywood’s formula system gives a terrible portrait of diversity in America. Hollywood is ages behind where it should be, but the industry is also in the business of catering to the masses. By nature, the broader an audience the more general the content becomes to placate every viewer’s tastes.  But the formula excuses today’s lack of film/television diversity as a product of the status quo, which is a really lazy way of saying, “We’re not racist. We just give society what it wants to watch.”

If Web 2.0 taught us anything it’s that we are both products and creators of the status quo. The media aren’t innocent mirrors of society, and consumers have the power to make a difference. There is no excuse.

Bottom Line:  We are lucky to have YouTube.

YouTube empowers creatives to sing, write, act, direct, film, teach and ramble without relying on traditional media guardians. While the site has its positive and negative aspects (variable product quality), I think YouTube offers a glimpse into the future of television.

YouTube enables people from vastly different walks of life to collaborate and build online communities. These communities make amazing things happen, whether it’s Nerdfighteria’s Project for Awesome or Tim H.’s YouTube series Project: Library.

For now, Hollywood remains the stronghold of Pretty White People. But the Internet is giving all actors and filmmakers an alternate arena to create and collaborate. Anna Akana and Nigahiga make quality videos. Jimmy Wong is one of the lead characters in Video Game High School, where he plays the son of Freddie Wong (played by his actual brother, Freddie Wong). You can check out the Nerdfighter network, the Multiverse or Wong Fu Productions on YouTube for great content.

The next generation of filmmakers is on YouTube right now, engaging with viewers and creating small, passionate audiences that support their work and thwart the traditional television revenue model. While it’s not really a proper consolation, at least we have our little bubble of Internet television to keep us company until Hollywood wakes up. Who needs a TV anyway, right?

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