tyler-newby Tyler Weaver

I hate remakes.

Well, OK.  That’s not a hundred percent true.  I love some of them – Huston’s MALTESE FALCON, Carpenter’s THE THING, Scorsese’s CAPE FEAR, Cronenberg’s THE FLY, and Hitchcock’s remake of his own THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (of which Hitch said, “the original was the work of a gifted amateur; the remake the work of a professional”).

All that said, I’m doing a remake of one of my own works here.  No, not a film. I’m not going to remake THE FOURTEEN MINUTE GAP (though I don’t deny wanting to tinker with it again).  I’m going to remake – revisit – an article I wrote for my MULTI-HYPHENATE blog, waaaay back in the day when it was a Tyler-exclusive site (OK, September 2009).

When Maria and I discussed me writing another article for this wonderful site, I brought up the idea that she was more than welcome to take any article I had written and republish it on her site.  I put forth the article, I’M A FILMMAKER WITH KARATE CHOP ACTION, which I figured would be a good one, extolling my belief that the filmmaker is the product – and the films they create are parts of that product.

Looking back on the article, I realized I wanted to change some things, and alter a few ideas according to my development in the past six months.  And here we are…

For those who follow me on my Twitter adventures (how I met Maria, and how 95% of the contributors to the new Multi-Hyphenate came about), or on my Facebook pages, or on any litany of social networking accounts, a question may be posed:

“You’re a filmmaker, right?  Aren’t you supposed to make flicks?  It seems like all you do is run your mouth about hating remakes, cursing Fox programming decisions, sickeningly talking about your dog like she’s the greatest thing in existence, and/or promoting other peoples’ movies?.”

Well… yeah.  But.

Social networking, blogging –  the internet in general – have all torn down the wall between the consumer of the product I create (movies) and the creator of the product (moi).  Why on earth would I want to keep them at arm’s length?  Why would I want to hide from that?  I enjoy conversing with them, and I enjoy letting them see a more complete picture of the brand that is me.

And that’s the idea.  The filmmaker is a BRAND.  Like Apple.  Like Microsoft. Google.  Gerber. Hershey’s. Jack Daniels. Johnnie Walker. GAP.  The films we make are the PRODUCT.  People buy the product and in doing so, remain faithful to the brand – if they like the product.

Alfred Hitchcock was (and is) not only a master filmmaker, but a brand.  When you watch a Hitchcock picture, you know you are watching a Hitchcock picture.  And this was very much by design – Hitch was a master filmmaker, AND a master marketeer.  Hitchcock was the Apple of filmmakers.  Without the floors in his stores flown in from his own mountain.

In today’s ADD-fueled, hyper-active lack of attention, anything you want in a single click world, a year or two between movies is a long time to let your brand fade into obscurity – no matter how good the product is.  And especially if you’re a filmmaker in the DIY world, where technology has given anyone – professional or schmuck – far easier access to content creation than before – “here today, gone tomorrow” is a very, very real phenomenon.

We’re in an age where films come and go at a breakneck pace.  Nearly everything is available at the click of a button – through legal or illegal means.  It is no longer enough to focus on one film, but a body of work that is built throughout your entire career.  And I don’t consider my films to be the end-all-be-all of my body of work.

Everything from the corporate interview spots to the non-profit fundraising videos, to the historical documentaries, commercials, feature-length films, short films, blog posts, television reviews, articles, photographs, random doodles, music videos, and music I write are all part of the brand I’m creating for myself.  I am a filmmaker, yes.  But I’m a human being first, with broad interests, fascinations, and peculiarities that I like to share with people.

As filmmakers – content creators – we are storytellers, yes,  but our greatest story is the real-life tale of our creative journey through the treacherous waters of our career; our successes, our failures.  The story of the filmmaker, of the visual artist, of the creative – is the script I could never sit down and write.

We are the protagonists in our own script.  The films (or books, or music, or quilts) we make are the products, and the success or failure of those products are the turning points in the script of our careers.

It’s the audience that helps write it, by fueling our successes, by staying with us through our failures (if they choose to).  Without the audience, the script of our career is never fully written.  Without their interest, our script is relegated to file 13.

It’s of paramount import that we content creators not only join in on tearing down the walls between content and creator, but to smash through with our own sledgehammer.  It’s only by doing this – by expanding our brand, and continually letting our audience into our creative world – that we will succeed.

They say (and I say) that a film script is written three times.  When it’s written, when it’s directed, and when it’s edited.  The script of our careers is continually re-written; it’s now become a live document, written by our audience the world over.

The movie is no longer just on the big screen.  It’s in the lives we lead and the image we project to our loyal fans and followers – who are no longer nameless, faceless box office receipts, but rather real people living their own script.

Our brand must be part of their lives, we must become the character in the script of our careers that they root for.  It’s by doing so that the products we create will be defined as success or failure – positive or negative turning points.

Give the audience a protagonist to root for, and they’ll want more.

  • Phil Holbrook
    February 8, 2010

    Well said. Certain filmmakers have always had their own brand, but in todays world this can be accomplished without having multi-million dollar movies first. Hue Rhodes is a good example of a director who is breaking down the walls between him and the audience by responding to messages, tweeting and meeting up with fans for pizza. I mean seriously, who does that? This is very important info for todays filmmaker or insert artist of any kind here. I am hoping to really connect with an audience on many different levels with the new film we are working on with Julie & Jessica (@kingisafink). Thanks for writing about this!

  • Nick Pepito
    February 8, 2010

    Great article with some great points. Looking at filmmakers as a brand and the films as a product puts a different light on a catalog of work. For the 2nd time today I’ve read mention of Hitchcock, well deserving and a great example of story teller who put his mark on the story.

    Very few people in Hollywood do I view as a brand, for the most they all come across as generic brands easily swapping one out for the other. Perhaps this has been lost over time in the pursuit of greater profits or easier film making.

    Regardless as the reason I think it is one of the biggest failings yet in storytelling, a personal stamp.

    Hopefully we can be part of a bright future full of great brands.

  • Miles Maker
    February 8, 2010

    Well-written! I’ve been Tweeting about this subject lately–as our body of work, our personal dress code, our manner of speaking and our style of visual storytelling converge to form our public ‘image.’ as filmmakers. I don’t fear being ‘typecast’ as a Director because that itself is successful branding; the stories we tell, the way we tell them and our own personal stories are intrinsically linked.

    (Miles Maker is a story Author, content Producer and Auteur whose dynamic media ventures encompass three current web/tech sector megatrends: mobile, social, and real-time.)

  • Belinda Gomez
    February 8, 2010

    I really doubt that Martin Scorsese’s choice of neckties affects his work. No one cares what you wear–they care what’s on the screen.

    “our greatest story is the real-life tale of our creative journey through the treacherous waters of our career; our successes, our failures”

    Actually, no. Flaubert was right.

  • david baker
    February 9, 2010

    I do beleive in personal branding. For years, I thought it should just be about your work, but like you said here, movies have the life expectancy of a house fly.

    Most of the filmmakers I have admired over the years, don’t always have big films out, or they have long gaps. Like Coppola’s recent “Tetro”.

    I knew about it away back before anybody reported on it, because I am such a fan of him, so was always looking for news. And I do the same with many other filmmakers that are not in the mainstream as much.

    We are in a world where people follow people, just as much as they follow their products. And lets face it, if filmmakers make a hit one day, people want to know about the story of how you did it, just as much as they do about the film itself.

    I loved Rodriguez’s filmmaking book, before I even saw El Mariachi. It wasn’t a great film, but it was a great personal story of his journey. Ok that is no big deal today making a flick, but I think people still want to watch people that are reach for the stars. We all need to inspire each other.

    Why is personal branding also so important for the web? I think we all know the key is to build mailing lists, fans for our films, so we can sell direct.

    If some of them lose touch with us, change their emails, and a year down the line they want to find out what we are up to, whats the latest film, then they should be able to find us very easy.

    If some of us eventually work in Hollywood too, then I am sure it makes sense to also use that marketing platform to bring them back to our own website, so support our smaller films too. (Why does Tarantino not have a dotcom? Ok he does not need it, but damm, he could have easily funded small personal flicks direct.) Anyway!

    A friend I have not met for 20 years found me the other night. I asked them how they got me. They said, “you wanted to be an actor, filmmaker, so I typed filmmaker, david baker. And bang, I had your address in seconds!”

    (That was good for my ego! haha Until they told me they were checking the Oscar list and I was not there!)

    No seriously, if your name is easy to find in a search engine, then our websites, social networks will pop up instantly. IF, you also get your name out there on blogs, podcasts etc.

    Its not about ego, as I hate the celebrity culture of just being there with nothing to offer, but if you do have some talent, you also need to be out there plugging yourself.Taking your “work” serious of course, not “yourself”

    In terms of personality, style, character, I dont think theres a successsful filmmaker alive that really doesn’t have their own brand. David Lynch even has his own coffee, and a darn fine cup of coffee I am sure it is!

    Ok off to get my personal website up and running. Whats my name again? I have no idea, my goddam brain is fried!

    Great post from Tyler, and Maria. Love Maria’s site!

    David Baker

  • Tyler Weaver
    February 9, 2010

    David, et al –

    Thank you so much for having a read of the article!

    A brand is dependent on the merging of person and product with audience and loyalty. And how is that done?

    An entertaining experience.

    Entertain an audience, do it well, do it repeatedly, and you’re golden.

    But most importantly – be yourself and true to your voice.

    Thanks again for reading.

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