The Big Push

I’m going to let you in on a secret.  This blog is only a ploy to get you to look at the rest of my web site.  Well, it’s not really a secret.

You see, I created Dr. Film as a TV show a couple of years ago, and the web site has been up for ages.  I couldn’t get anyone to look at the site.  No one wanted to look at my demos, either.

There will be another screening of the complete show on August 4, 2011, at Garfield Park in Indianapolis.  Here’s the link if you’d like to attend.  It’s free.  If you don’t know about the complete show, then read on, Macduff.

The reason this is “the big push” is that I’ve only now figured out a decent marketing campaign, and the show is now going to a number of venues.  I spent more time figuring out a marketing campaign than I did making the show.  There is new art, an upgraded web page, and I’ve got a publicist on board.  I hope this will put us over the top.  It’s a lot of work for a show about old movies.

You see, I love old films, and it bothers me that so few people watch them anymore.  It’s my feeling that most people are uninitiated and just don’t understand what they’re seeing.  I think that some people are a little put off by the hosts on the major channels.  They treat film as high art (which it is), but we sometimes miss the raggedy fun of a strange old film we’ve never seen.

After all, Citizen Kane is great art, but how many times can you watch it?  And in my experience, there is so much stuff that is sitting out there unseen and unpreserved that it saddens me to see the same old warhorses trotted out for the “old movie show.”  Theater owners and TV stations think that if it isn’t a title you know, then you won’t watch.

I’ve got some experience in this.  I’ve taught film history and appreciation, and people seem to like my classes.  I also remember the old days of TV, with the rough-edged local host doing a movie.  I thought that if I could combine the come-what-may atmosphere of the old days, no suits, no slickness, and weave in a little real history, we might have a good show.

That’s what Dr. Film is.  Or what it will be.

The show is designed to highlight unusual films that you don’t see on television much.  It’s definitely got a “what the heck is that” factor built into it.  I’m hoping to catch some errant channel flipper on his way past the classic film channel.  I hope he stays long enough to see what we’re showing.

Yes, I did make a complete pilot that’s broadcast-ready at 96 minutes.  I’ve taken some heat for not posting it.  It’s not on iTunes or YouTube either.  Why not?  Because it took so much time and effort to make the episode that I can’t afford another one.  If I give this one away, then the networks look at the show as “contaminated” by having been out there in the “free” world.

Trust me, in an ideal world I’d love to do this for free.  The stats are painful, though.  Three full days of shooting, many, hours of rewriting, days of film transfer work and re-transfer work.  Then the ultimate: I had to add titles, artwork and composite the show.  It took me a solid month to do it.  I admit that Episode 2 would take less time, but it’s still a lot of work.  I can’t spend this kind of time on a show unless I can get money back out of it.

The good news is that I’ve got the whole thing down to a staff of 3 people, and I’m the one who does most of the work.  That means that I can crank out episodes for a pretty inexpensive price compared to what other places have to charge.  Sometimes being a film geek and an engineer has its benefits.

I hope you’ve seen enough of the site to be excited about the show.  I hope you’re excited about the blog.  I’m the worst person in the world on marketing, but I know one thing.  I call it the marketing triangle.  I need three people to do effective marketing.  If I tell you that my restaurant is great, you won’t believe me.  I’ve got a stake in it, and you’ll raise your eyebrow and walk away.  It’s human nature.  But if a buddy of yours tells you that my restaurant is great, you’ll give it a chance.

I can’t just tell people that Dr. Film would be a cool show, and that this is an interesting site.  You have to tell a friend.  Hopefully, your friends will tell friends too.

What else can you do?  Well, if you have a friend with money who might like to sponsor the show, then let him know about it.  If you know any potential network or cable outlet that might like to pick up the show, then let me know.  Please don’t pester people, but a polite, “Hey, this is good,” is always welcome.

Would you like to have a free commando screening of the pilot episode?  That’s great, and I can help arrange it.  I realize that people want to see the show, and that’s fine.  I just can’t go making copies of it for public consumption.  Terry Gilliam got Brazil released on word of mouth.  I’m hoping that Dr. Film might get the same reception.

I know it’s crazy.  I’m told that often.  But one of my blog posts recently went viral in Europe.  I got about 20 pingbacks in an hour.  I never thought that would happen.  Maybe this can happen too.

7 thoughts on “The Big Push”

  1. I would love to see this picked up and succeed on some level. I notice that current TV delivery systems (i.e Verizon FIOS – Comcast, etc) offer a selection of “On Demand” material that’s free to subscribers (i.e. Verizon FIOS offers whatever free films TCM makes available at any given point – they also seem to have other oddball offerings including vintage P.D. films that have been licenced from God know where.) I don’t know enough about how this ‘free on demand’ stuff gets licenced – but it occurs to me that “Dr. Film” would be a perfect program – with ongoing episodes – that would be a natural for this platform. Anyone out there know how “Dr. Film” could get picked up as a ‘Free On Demand”offering?

    1. Free on Demand is still rather new to me. Sounds cool. Turner Classic may still be a possibility (I’d love to see Dr. Film on, say, Saturdays at midnight there), but Bravo, Sundance, Independent Film, and several others are all owned by a conglomerate has a really difficult wall to get over. It’s complicated, but a Catch-22. It boils down to what I described as “the marketing triangle.” They don’t want to hear anything about the show from me, but they’ll listen to you folks out there.

  2. There must be a way! Dr. Film can save the world with his old films! Seriously, I hope some network or outlet gives this series a chance and introduces our “brave new world” to the wonders of classic films. . . black and white, and even (gasp) silent! To show folks amazing animation from ninety years ago, incredible special effects NOT generated by a computer, and brilliant color films decades before “The Wizard of Oz.” Onward, Dr. Film!

  3. I wish I knew someone to help -my best wishes to you for your dedication & passion…

    1. Thank you so much. Stay tuned for a brief Joseph Stefano tribute in an upcoming blog…

  4. i luv old movies. I watch them all teh time with my mom after school. I’m glad their is people to show them.

  5. I just saw one of the showings of Dr. Film last night. Wow. This guy is a GEM! This show would be great for the film schools we have here in San Fran, as it’s informative and funny. Great show.

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