Tag Archives: film development

Brand Awareness – The Lone Ranger

 

Here is the new look Lone Ranger and Tonto.  I grew up with Clayton Moore and Jay  Silverheels black and white repeats in Australia and had the Lone Ranger action figure and Silver in the early 1970’s.  Although unlike Simon Pegg I did not find Tonto sexually attractive with his clothes off…

I own DVD episodes and my mother in law bought me a complete action figure just like the one I had when I was a kid. Mine is probably at the bottom of a sandpit in South Australia somewhere. ..

I cannot relate to a Lone Ranger that does not wear sky blue.  Tim Burton kept the mask (which looks like a left over from Batman)  and the white hat but made his outfit black. I just don’t get it.   I feel angry.  He has messed with a brand that I love.  He has messed with my memory of that brand.

Bad guys wear black and why does he look so intensely depressed?

Tonto looks like The Crow meets Edward Scissor Hands on a horse.   Tonto is not meant to be scary. Simon Pegg won’t fantasise about this Tonto. Marilyn Manson might…

Branding is important from the get go.  Lone Ranger is more than a brand.  It’s an icon.  A tradition.

Imagine years from now when they do a Star Wars remake ( They will…) Chewbacca has Green Fur and Darth Vader is dressed in all white or pink or glowing yellow.  Would the fans be just a little bit disillusioned?  Their grandparents and great grand parents will have introduced them to the brand just like they were introduced to icons like Mickey Mouse and The Lone Ranger when they were kids.

Brand awareness is permanent.  Once you make something that’s popular for the world to see and the world accepts it there is no going back.  You can’t change the brand.  Imagine purple Smurfs,  Teenage Mutant Ninja Wombats, an audible Donald Duck, Micky Mouse with a low pitch voice,  A green Spiderman, Homer Simpson thin and smart. A right handed Ned Flanders.  It would not work.

What the producers of this remake are not paying attention to is the power of the brand and it’s nostalgic pull.  Lone Ranger makes me think of my child hood, of security, of happy times.  Mess with the branding and you mess with the association.  When I heard it was being remade I was excited. I wanted to go to see the movie in a flash because  it reminded me of that magical Christmas in 1976 when Lone Ranger entered my life under the Christmas Tree.

That’s a big part of the attraction, like Star Wars episode 4 in 3d when they get to it.  I’ll be there, just like I was there for the anniversary in 1996 and the original as a kid all those years ago.

Last night we watched Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris just hoping that our restaurant  might  appear.  To our surprise it did.  We saw The Shakespeare Bookshop and there right next to it was a glimpse.  The film went to a lot of places that we had been to over several visits and brought back strong and pleasant nostalgic memories.   Midnight in Paris is just like Notting Hill to us because Notting Hill reminds us of 2 years of living in London and all the sights that appear, we have been to or walked past frequently.

Nostalgia is powerful.

So Hollywood remember that when you turn our dramas into comedies and our heroes into dark depressing caricatures, you are messing with the brand and when you mess with the brand, you mess with the fans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A day in the life of a producer…

 

Today I experienced my first taste of dealing with US agents from a producers viewpoint.  To say it’s not easy is an understatement.

The day was a roller coaster as it was; and it was almost like a Hollywood screenplay with highs and lows.

It started when I received an e-mail from a powerful financier who decided that their company slate was full but at least gave me the option to re approach when we have a screenplay.  That’s fine by me.  Early development funding for SPELLSINGER was always going to be the challenge and traditionally the small money is the hardest to come by.

Besides this company was only one possible piece of my puzzle but I have lots of other options.

We know that we have to get ahead and the only way to do that is to start packaging the project even to make it attractive for the early investors.

Now I have heard so much about “Packaging” and read so much about it. The idea is to get a director involved and piece it together from there.  We want the director involved from the get go. I have read about Pay or Play and scoured the internet looking at all sorts of stories and ideas and ways to go about development.  I have a library of books that all have very different ideas.  This is not rocket science.

All roads led to the directors agency.

If the director liked it we might get the agency to package it.

I asked a few rather prominent producers if they would go to an agency before money or distribution was attached. “Sure” they said. This was a relief. A little bit of homework is always a good way to prepare beforehand.

Sweet.

Time to make the call.

I was immediately directed to a very friendly assistant.

Everything seemed to be going well until I learned something.

Unfortunately the agency had a policy that loomed up like an iceberg.

Unless I had a track record with dealing with them, they would not deal with me.  I had to know someone who had that record and they had to refer me personally.

AAARRRRGGHHH!

But I completely understand why they have such a policy rather than look at the merit of the story.

After all they have a right to protect their clients. It’s not just a chicken and an egg scenario.  it’s about protecting clients from an army of time wasters.  Time is so important in this game it’s like gold.  It’s valuable.

I was just caught off guard.  I knew about unsolicited scripts.

It’s the same principle.  So I played it cool and ended the call on a very positive note.

I was glad that we were not alone.  If I had no leads or contacts I would be in a worse position.

I would be in no position.

But I have a good lead who is not just entertainment royalty in Australia but a consultant on the film.

I e-mailed my consultant and the response was immediate. If the consultant dealt me a hand in poker it would be 5 aces. BAM!!

So I called back and the assistant was even more receptive but asked if my consultant could call personally.

I told the assistant that my consultant (Who is doing everything with the flu) could not call today but I had a rather lengthy e-mail from them.

The assistant asked if forward the e-mail.

When I sent the e-mail I felt great. It’s like making it to another level of a video game!!!

Looking forward to that follow up call on Monday!!!

I learnt a few valuable things.  It’s an exhilarating experience. Highs and lows. But determination and changing your approach must be a part of the plan when facing what are seemingly insurmountable obstacles!

Here is a song I listen to a lot