Funding Local Film And Television, The Artist and The Advertiser Speak.

Danielle Dieffenthaller wants everyone in the corporate sector, who still doubts the power and mass audience appeal of locally produced films and television series, to know,

“That whole ‘local thing not good’ thinking, is old and dead!”

The producer, director and writer of two successful local television series, knows what she is talking about. Her vantage point includes her memories of the groundbreaking days of No Boundaries and Sugar Cane Arrows. She says,

“Now we know beyond a doubt that people are watching. We simply love to watch ourselves. Young people in particular are watching The Reef and rediscovering Westwood Park as it is now on Tempo all over the Caribbean.”

Danielle is hoping that the corporate sector begins to get innovative and helps to push our local film industry forward. In her words,

“The corporate sector does not fully appreciate that today’s market does not want to be told what to do and what to buy! They want to be entertained and subtly influenced. Then they will make up their own mind. CW Interiors and The London Clothing Company, I really have to big them up, they were two sponsors of Westwood Park that had the vision to get on board early. Now they are saying that the show brought them so much recognition. Many of the customers who visit CW say that they saw the interior and products on Westwood Park. “

Yet, despite the successful advertising trends abroad that effectively use film and television programming like Coca Cola and American Idol, Manolo Blahnik and Sex and The City, Audi and Iron Man; and locally, Regal Products and The Kurchursingh Family, Danielle laments,

“In this day and age you still have companies that will spend millions on a campaign, just for a few radio spots, television spots and press ads. Then Lent is over and that is that. Everybody forgets all about their brand as opposed to sponsoring a television series or a local film that lives on forever. I just don’t get it!”

Luckily, some in the advertising industry do get it, like the Director of Client Services at Advantage Advertising, Anika Aleong. She agrees with Danielle and admits,

“Traditionally, clients have grown comfortable with the traditional media strategy; radio, press, print, television ads. The difficulty lies in breaking them out of this comfort zone because they are not going to do it unless you can sell them on how they will get a return on their investment.”

Anika urges local filmmakers to be more proactive in soliciting the aid of advertising agencies. She points out,

“This is what Hollywood does for films like Harry Potter. It begins its marketing sometimes an entire year before its release. I think the local artists have great ideas! I look at Gayelle and I have to applaud what they are doing. It’s just that many artists cannot straddle the role of being pragmatic and wanting to express their vision. An artist is not necessarily a trained sales person. The agencies can strengthen their position tremendously! Clients these days are so sophisticated that they want to know who will be watching your show, why they will be watching and how it will benefit their product. You need feasibility studies, and marketing strategies to present to companies and generate interest and buy-in for product placement and exclusive media time, long before it airs. Of course, the film or television series must have audience appeal.”

Danielle fully agrees about audience appeal. She echoes the aspirations of the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company who have aided her in bringing both her original series to life, when she explains,

“The more successful and lucrative local filmmakers become, the stronger the entire industry becomes. Artists must realise this thing is bigger than them and their need to express themselves. This is about creating a sustainable industry and the only way to do that is to treat it like a business. You have to make material people want to watch, there’s just no other way around it.”

There is no question that if Danielle continues to up the ante on her successful television career she will eventually have enough clout in the industry to be able to make whatever film or television series she wants. This is the end goal of any filmmaker, to call the shots and have investors come to them for a change. Anika has nothing but praise for Danielle,

“I have to admire Danielle. For her to be so successful in this country where that support is scarce, hats off man!”

 

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