A while back, we introduced you to CrewTide, a startup crew that connects filmmakers and brands to launch viral web series. The basic idea – they know people hate boring commercials where the bottom line is to sell, sell, sell. People want to be entertained. So these web series are stories, with characters, plot lines, thematic layers and all the other qualities that make a good story a good story, with, ideally, a healthy dose of product placement in the mix. With a new name – they now go by ZoomTilt – and a new website, which just launched today, they’re running an awesome contest for aspiring filmmakers that will provide a tremendous opportunity for the winners.
They’re now accepting user submitted scripts and pitches for web series (3-5 minute episodes) and the ten best will be awarded $1,000 to help fund the project and get it going with the help of industry professionals to develop the script and make a pilot episode. The best pilots will receive funding for a full season.
Right now, they’re filming a series (which was also user submitted), starring Hassan Johnson, who you know well as Wee Bey from one of the all time greatest television series ever, “The Wire” (“You gon’ give ’em different food for each tank, too.”). The show, titled “Dead Man’s Trigger” is a crime drama/thriller about two FBI agents (Johnson’s a cop now!) trying to foil a bomb plan in Manhattan. The commercial aspect? These shirts will be featured in the series, courtesy of Ministry of Supply. So, you’ll get a story with an awesome actor, directed by Juan Reinoso, and might also think, “Hey, I kind of like that shirt.”
Something like that would be awesome for an aspiring filmmaker.
“What we’d like to do is find a brand whose message really fits with what the pilot’s all about and then we’re going to try to match make those,” said Chris Bolman, co-founder of ZoomTilt. “We’re all about creating great entertainment for entertainment sake. If we get a really great idea and we can’t get an advertiser right out of the gate, that wont stop us from making it.”
It’s unavoidable at this point to consume any sort of content free of advertisement. While this burns me at the core of my existence, it’s also a fact of life that is only becoming more emphatic. Rather than dropping horrible, spammy, blocky ads that no one ever considers reading or clicking on, save for clicking X, that provide a nano-second’s worth of nuisance on your Youtube video, they’re creating a way to appease both consumers and sellers. If you watch a movie or a TV show, there’s going to be product placement. Pontiac is probably petitioning AMC to keep “Breaking Bad” on the air for the next 700 years, no matter what Walter White does with his Aztek. We can be forgiving, loving even, when there is fantastic content that comes with it.
“In general, if it looks like an ad, people treat it like an ad,” said Bolman. “They don’t come back, they don’t look for it, they don’t develop an emotional association and they don’t remember the brand.”
“If people have a really cool, entertaining association with a brand, that’s a totally different affect than having a banner ad for it. Given how crowded the internet is and how much noise there is, we feel like advertising is trending toward being interactive.”
It’s important to note that they’re not in the business of making ads, but helping artists develop sustainable careers. This is just a perfect way to do it. If there is interest in a given brand already, this can help filmmakers develop their own fan base and get their name out there, especially when they get to work with folks like Johnson and Reinoso. If the future were being documented, they might be holding the clapboard.