Medea filmmaker is a role model for independent artists struggling to raise funds
I consider Tyler Perry an inspiration and a role model. And I say that without ever having seen any of his films. As entertainment goes, they’re not to my taste. I’m sure that’s fine with Mr. Perry, because he didn’t make them to please snobs like me. He made them to please his audience. Tyler Perry knows, likes and respects his audience of church-going, (mostly) African-Americans from working poor to emerging middle class, and he gives them what they want without pretense or condescension. As a result, he is a critic-proof, hit-generating machine. He is one of the few figures in the movie industry who can green-light himself. So, if he’s not my inspiration as an auteur, he certainly is as an entrepreneur. He has been a model for Christian filmmakers, who have gotten support from local congregations to fund their projects. But everyone in Hollywood, from the sniveling film-school graduate, laboring to give birth to a delicate art house examination of the ethereal blending on adolescent angst and Marxist dialectic, to the cynical exec chasing the next of iteration of Michael Bay meets Mattel, should take note: Know your audience. Like your audience. Respect your audience. Deliver what the audience wants.
It wouldn’t hurt also, if you happened to like your fellow man, which is another quality Mr. Perry seems to possess in abundance. Hence the marketing campaign for his new film, Good Deeds. The press release for the film reads:
Tyler Perry’s GOOD DEEDS is very happy to announce Good Deeds: Great Needs, an initiative to support Covenant House, a non-profit organization that provides for homeless youth. Through GiftCardGiver.com, Good Deeds: Great Needs will be collecting unused gift cards and donating all collected to Covenant House.
In addition, Lionsgate will be making a financial donation to Covenant House for every share of the GOOD DEEDS trailer! So make sure to watch and share the video!
To learn more and share Good Deeds: Great Needs, visit www.gooddeedsgreatneeds.com
GOOD DEEDS also presents fans the opportunity to win a Valentine’s Date Night! Just head over to the GOOD DEEDS Facebook page and submit your “love story” for the chance to win a $500 Visa Gift Card!
Contest can be found here.
I’m not presenting this information to plug a film I probably won’t see. What interests me is the skill with which the film is being marketed. By associating it with a worthy cause, Covenant House, Perry may boost his social networking chances substantially and garner good will from prospective viewers. This may translate into better box office. I can’t help but wonder if this can be applied to artists struggling to fund their independent projects.
I get a lot of kickstarter.com requests to support my friends’ artistic projects. For those of you who haven’t heard, kickstarter is a website which features video pitches for artistic projects and processes donations. If an artist hits his goal, he gets the funds, minus the kickstarter cut. If he falls short of his goal, the credit cards are not processed, and he gets nothing. Most people I know who have tried kickstarter.com have not made their goals. That may be due to the size of their social network or the attractiveness of their project or the goodies they offer as rewards. But I think associating themselves with a larger purpose than the project itself might give the extra nudge they need.
That’s exactly what Tyler Perry is doing with this campaign. Whether it succeeds and whether it could be adapted to work by lesser known artists who don’t have Lionsgate behind them is something to be seen. But I think all artists have a connection to some charity or network thereof, which might just help an artist break through and get the financing he needs to launch a project and a career.