[MAPR Blog Post] Digital Video in a Viral World: Filmmaker Turns the Lens

The internet is built on video! Video has changed the way we capture, create and consume content from websites, blogs and social media. Fun fact: One of my first personal video cameras was a Flip Ultra HD when I was in middle school. The device allowed two hours of HD video, came with proprietary editing software, was battery-operated and cost less than $200. It was quite innovative at the time since smartphones weren’t equipped with HD video capabilities (or the space / speed required). Times have since changed and video capabilities are accessible by everyone. The fact that online video is a great way to connect with your audience and develop a following is undeniable.

Video in a Viral World Graphic

We all turn to images where numbers or words can’t get the job done. The concept of storytelling through photographs is nothing new. Photographs are compelling content, and this basically explains the popularity behind image sharing services like Pinterest and Instagram. There is a saying, “A picture is worth 1000 words.” In contrast, I would imagine a video is worth 100,000 words *snickers*. Funny enough as a content creator and filmmaker, my emphasis was never on personal videos, being a vlogger or YouTuber per se. I used visual storytelling to promote companies and causes, but me? Meh. Not so much. I spend much more time behind the camera than in front of it. I named this post “filmmaker turns the lens,” because I literally had to shoot myself … with the camera, what did you think I was talking about?

Screen-grab from Briana M. Andrews – Television Academy Foundation internship finalist video interview

Okay, story-time … recently, I was selected as a finalist for the Television Academy Foundation internship in Interactive Media (New Media / Social). This category blends my talents and interests because it’s a hybrid of photo, video, text, mobile, audio, social, animated-GIFs and EVERYTHING THAT SPARKLES. From what I hear, the candidates are selected by the same panel that pick Emmy winners. Nonetheless, I was super excited to even make the final round. Here’s the catch, one of the final requirements in request of consideration for the position is the completion of a web interview. When I tell you I had HireVue flashbacks … OMG. I hate it.

I learned something from the experience, though.  I am never the subject of my own videos!  I need to address this head-on and get as comfortable in front of the camera as I am behind it. In this week’s lecture, Professor Dunnington played a video clip from Amy Schmittauer.  Her book, Vlog like a Boss is next up on my reading list.

Let’s get away from me being a deer-in-headlights while in front the camera for a moment and revisit the importance of video content.  Below are a few highlights from two Dunnington lectures (on Digital Video and Vlogs, and Communicating with Images and Video in a Mobile and Viral World) and from David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Photos and videos resonate with your audience MUCH MORE than text
  • People who write good captions and headlines improve SEO and capture good readership
  • Use photos that support the text … and write text that support the photo.
  • If you create an interesting story, others will share it for you.
  • When an idea takes off online, it can catapult your brand.
  • Find topics that interest you and pick subjects organically; don’t script things.
  • Videos WILL HELP introduce people to your business.
  • Use descriptive words (keywords) in file names. 

I recently finished reading the David Meerman Scott book and wrote a review.  Be on the lookout for that.  I am also attending the screening for our film, Daughters of Solanas tonight at the Museum of Moving Image in New York.  Bookmark my page and be on the lookout for updates.  Take care.

Thug Motivation: Drama Short – Written and Directed by Briana M. Andrews

I am pleased to introduce you to Thug Motivation. This is a drama short-film written and directed by (me) Briana M. Andrews, Rowan University senior and owner of BibbyFame Digital, LLC. The shoot took place over the weekend, and it was a awesome demonstration of teamwork and resourcefulness.

BTS Social Video Clip – Thug Motivation shoot

This story is an actor’s plea for “less thug, more motivation.” The protagonist, Kevin, played by Howie Jones, senior Computer Science major at Rowan University expresses frustration because he is a classically trained actor, however, he’s routinely cast and sent on auditions for demeaning roles which he reluctantly accepts. During this contentious meeting with the casting director, he lashes out about degrading role offers and visualizes inspirational, thought-provoking roles that contribute to humanity.

Gang-members and thug roles are disproportionately played by black actors. However, this isn’t reflective of the actual demographics of American gangs. While Thug Motivation shares the story of one actor, it serves as a launchpad for discussion on casting directors engaged in type-casting, limited role opportunities, inadequate African-American representation in film and potential societal implications from such imagery.

  • Production Title: Thug Motivation
  • Union/Non-Union: Non-Union
  • Production Type: Independent / Student
  • Project Length: Short (5 minutes)

I submitted this screenplay for consideration earlier this semester and in recent weeks, I presented the look-book and defended the film concept. There was no budget for this film, however, campus resources were at our disposal for equipment. For the film setting, we converted an 8-max group study room at Campbell Library into a convincing office location. I am extremely proud of the entire team. I also appreciate their open-mindedness and willingness to wear several hats to pull this off successfully.

Crew Group Photo – Thug Motivation Short – Rowan University Film Production II RTF
  • Director / Writer: Briana M. Andrews
  • AD: Ryan Baitinger
  • DP: Bill Kosturko
  • Producer: Kyle Cann
  • Prod. Manager: Anthony Mitchell

[MAPR Book Review] Social PR Secrets for Filmmakers and Content Creators

CONTENT IS KING! I enjoy reading titles with actionable, real-world tactics and extracting elements for creatives occupying digital space, particularly filmmakers. I’d like to share my review on the fourth edition of Lisa Buyers’ Social PR Secrets: How to Optimize, Socialize and Publicize Your Brand. I recently devoured the Kindle edition of this field guide on public relations, social media and digital marketing. I recommend checking out, it’s an easy read with strategies for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat and LinkedIn.

Public Relations Impact Graphic – Social Media and Digital Marketing.

Social PR Secrets packs 32 chapters, yet remains a relatively simple and quick read with short, easily-digestible chapters.  Buyers personalizes each chapter and often details her experience while offering examples and leaning on associated subject matter experts.  She provides historical context, the current state and best practices.  She also outlines tools such as Xtensio.com and Hubspot to create free persona profiles, tools like Paper.Li and Scoop.It for content curation tailored to your audience and ScribeContent.com for content optimization, search engine visibility and social sharing.

From the standpoint of a creative filmmaker who blends art with digital media, below are several excerpts from Social PR Secrets that are poised to assist with the development of an online strategy:

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Awesome content lasts forever
  • Stay fresh, find inspiration
  • Create materials and content that addresses the needs of your audience
  • Think like your audience, create a persona profile for your audience

Another key takeaway that I felt was important to point out for creatives is to “Skip self-promotion and find your passion points.”  For instance, Red Bull rarely talks about their drink, rather, it details the passion that connects the brand to their audience and living life to the extreme.  For another example, I recall a recent ad slot by Bumble app starring Serena Williams.  The commercial never referenced what the product is, rather, it details an ideology – one that supports women taking the first move in work, love and life.  The message resonated with me, and prompted me to research the company.  It is important not to get so caught up in the act of promoting your services and accomplishments that you overshadow what the brand represents.

CONTENT CREATION CHECKLIST

  • Make sure your message is REAL and AUTHENTIC
  • Use VISUALS to illustrate your message
  • Ensure the content has a CLEAR VALUE PROPOSITION
  • Offer a clear next step or CALL TO ACTION

TYPES OF CONTENT TO DRIVE MORE TRAFFIC (50 different types listed in Ch. 4)
Video, How-To, Email Campaigns, Events, Promotions, Live Chats, Guides, Infographics, Blog Posts, Interactive Content, Interviews, Tweets, Photo Galleries

Personally, I love that Social PR Secrets offers a comprehensive list of free graphic and image sources.  I also like that Buyers’ chapters are broken down by subject and platform.  The book has a list of bullets in almost every chapter making the material visually scannable, which makes for great reference document.  I finished reading the book, but will definitely revisit.  In short, I recommend this book (especially the digital version for search-ability and hyperlinks) and encourage you to check it out.

Behind-the-Scenes, Still Photography – Film Set, Daughters of Solanas.

Poster for Daughters of Solanas Film.

The film, Daughters of Solanas is now complete and on IMDb.   I am credited under Camera and Electrical Equipment for my work on the set handling BTS.  I also manage the social media presence for the film; you can read about this in the previous blog post.  The screening for Daughters of Solanas will take place next week at the Museum of Moving Image.  Here are a few photos I took of the crew, which consisted of 27 women.  Bravo!

[MAPR Blog Post] SEO and Content Marketing for Filmmakers – The Basics

Graphic on SEO applicability to content creators and filmmakers

As a content creator, it is imperative to have an understanding of SEO and content marketing. This will help you navigate the online space and understand what “works” for the marketplace.  Most importantly, this will arm you with important tools for driving your works (and business) forward.  WE ARE ALL CONTENT MARKETERS NOW.  In this article, I’ll explore the intersection between content creation, search engine optimization and digital marketing.  I will also delve into Hyper Local SEO and Marketing – How US Marketers Win Global By Going Local by Donald L Dunnington, extracting the major points applicable to filmmakers and content creators.

The secret to successful content marketing isn’t actually a secret. It involves the commitment to producing a continuous stream of useful and engaging content. A poignant statement from Dunnington is, “SEO is the new PR and PR is the new SEO.” While SEO media relations are focused on online media and search engine results pages (SERPS), there are comparable objectives with public relations professionals, since the emphasis for both are increasing brand awareness, relationship building and boosting placements.

The digital age takes content production to a hyper level and there is a premium placed on consumer-friendly, authentic content. This holds true for various platforms: websites, blogs, YouTube channels, social media etc.  As filmmakers, we are all looking for innovative marketing strategies to engage our expand our audience.  This involves researching your niche audience and how to reach them.  I mention this to stress the importance of SEO and relationship building.  I will write additional articles on avenues, such as posting behind-the-scenes moments, creating graphics, strategically hashtagging and personalizing the experience for your audience.  Stay tuned, and bookmark my site.

Key Takeaways:

  • CONTENT IS KING. Quality in-bound links start with producing original, quality, authentic and compelling content for online, social and mobile platforms.
  • WE ARE ALL CONTENT MARKETERS NOW. This is the prime driver of sales leads for B2B and B2C industries.
  • SEO is the new PR and PR is the new SEO.
  • Develop a personal touch, stay in contact, maintain a two-way relationship.
  • Relationships are built in relevancy, quality and the value they bring to the vertical market they serve.

Sidebar: One lesson I learned directly from the author, Donald Dunnington, who happens to be the professor of my grad-level public relations course at Rowan University is that Google penalizes sites that contain duplicate content. This was important because I had a secondary site geared toward women in tv and film where I would republish some of my articles and blog posts first featured on this website.  After this discovery, I later elected to create a category page.  There are important technical considerations involved in our quest for SEO relevance.  Oftentimes, creators share the same content across social media and various platforms, however, with blogs in particular, even if you are the original author, you should be mindful of mirroring duplicate content across sites because there are associated search engine penalties.

Daughters of Solanas: Dramedy Short – Women’s Weekend Filmmaker Challenge

Daughters of Solanas, Film Graphic – designed by Rachel Fischman of Planet Papaya

Creating the dramedy, Daughters of Solonas was an incredible experience and I’m excited about our screening next week at the Museum of Moving Image in Astoria, NY.  One of the items on my filmmaker bucket list was to work on a film with an all-female cast and crew.  This month, I will have the opportunity to complete that, twice over.  The Women’s Weekend Film Challenge bought together women from all walks of life … different races, different socio-economic statuses, different religions, different education levels … complete strangers, all coming together with the common objective of creating a short, in a really short period of time.  The footage looks amazing, the film was submitted, the screening is next week and at a later date, the festival submission activities will commence.

Personally, I would like to thank Tracy Sayre and Katrina Medoff for their work organizing the Women’s Weekend Film Challenge, and for all of their efforts for women in film.  They emphasize how much representation and diversity matter.  These are causes that are obviously very close to my heart.  Some of the challenge sponsors include RED cameras, Gotham Sound, IDX, Zeiss Lenses, AbelCine Brooklyn Lighting and Grip, Lightbulb Grip and Electric and Below the Line. 

I handled BTS photo / video on this project.  I also created and manage the socials. Check out and follow @DaughtersofSolanas on Instagram and Facebook.  A photo-story BTS montage can be found below.  I’ll be sharing some video of the crew (Team Banks) in action in the near future, stay tuned.

60-second social-video containing behind-the-scenes stills photography montage for Daughters of Solanas by Briana M. Andrews

[MAPR Blog Post] The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How the Web Changed the Rules

Social Media Bullseye Graphic: PR Spam, Marketing Activities

One of my latest Kindle readings include, The New Rules of Marketing & PR – 6th Edition by David Meerman Scott.  In coming weeks, I’ll post more of a comprehensive book review, however, for this blog post I’ll highlight some of the gems highlighted in Chapter 20, New Rules for Reaching the Media. 

For a long time, public relations professionals viewed coverage as a numbers game … full-on blitz, reach out to as many journalists and outlets as you can.  The process was literally, “throwing crap against the wall to see what sticks.”  The non-targeted e-blasts and sleezy methods to lure people to open the messages are partially why strategic communicators received a reputation as spammers. 

The web changed the rules and traditional PR techniques are becoming less effective.  To provide an example and illustrate using layman’s terms; there are parallels between a PR rep securing coverage, and an individual securing a job.  I say this because in one point in time, people were able to blast resumes and play the numbers game, with hopes of landing some interviews.  Now-a-days, attempting the same wouldn’t be effective, in fact, you’d be agitating people.  The process takes time, and personalization.  You have to KNOW the company, understand what comes along with the role, research the applicants they are likely to hire, understand expectations etc.  Letters and resumes need to be customized and even then, it needs to be keyword heavy since pretty much every company has software to scan and eliminate who they deem to be unqualified.   Your resume may never even reach a human. 

Networking is key, because nothing trumps personal relationships.  You’d be surprised how many companies post positions as a formality when they already know who they want.  In both the PR example and the  individual finding a job example, it is very much a “Don’t call me … I’ll find you.”  Correspondence must be personalized, pay attention to the stories a journalist is likely to cover, develop personal relationships; send individualized pitches and target one reporter at a time.  Do what you can to build your audience and showcase your own brand in the best possible light.  This includes having a comprehensive online media room including photos and videos.  “To get noticed, you need to be smart about how you tell your story on the web – and about how you tell your own story to journalists.”

Some key takeaways are as follows:

  • Refrain from sending non-targeted broadcast pitches
  • Develop personal relationships and send an individualized pitch, tailored to the needs of the journalist
  • Target one reporter at a time and pay attention to the types of stories they cover
  • Content drives marketing … make sure your information is up to date, define your niche and use hashtags

Upcoming Events for Women in Film (Festivals) – NYC

Events for Women in Film NYC

I’d like to pass along information on a few upcoming events in the New York City area.  Established and aspiring female filmmakers alike can benefit from these events.  Check these events out for opportunities to network, learn and support fellow women in TV and film. 

Women’s Film Festival
Thursday – Saturday, April 4-6th 2019 (FREE)
St. Francis College – Brooklyn, NY

Banner for St. Francis College Women’s Festival in Brooklyn, NY

This program has shown continuous commitment to emerging and established women in film.  Their stated goal is to “create a bridge between female college filmmakers and professional female filmmakers which will encourage collaboration, cooperation and coordination.”

2019 Bowery Film Festival – The Female Gaze
Friday, April 12th 2019 – 7-9pm
DC-TV 87 Lafayette Street – New York, NY

This program will highlight works by female filmmakers, including short-films, experimental works and web-series.

Imagine This! Girl Power Film + Media Summit – Attendee Reflection

Briana M. Andrews attends Girl Power Film + Media Summit in New York in March 23, 2019.

This past weekend I attended the Girl Power Film + Media Summit and Showcase in New York.  This event was presented by Imagine This Productions (creators of the Women’s International Film Festival).  I had a phenomenal time, and I am still working my way through the goodie bag containing Cinema Femme Magazine, Eden BodyWorks, Good! Snacks, Ursa Major 4-in-1, Curls liquid hair growth vitamins and more.  I love freebies! 

As a small business owner who actively freelances, I’ll admit, getting my P’s and Q’s together from a business standpoint was definitely a work in progress. I am a creator, and at least initially, my focus was primarily on doing what I love … creating! I spent countless hours developing my craft, writing screenplays, filming, editing etc. However, the same level of dedication wasn’t replicated from a financial perspective. It is no secret that many filmmakers struggle to monetize their projects. Many never quite make it out of the red. I am happy to reach a stage where I can actively book freelance projects and assist companies with telling their stories. However, that is only a start! I wasn’t quite as diligent as I should have been with invoicing, retaining receipts, tracking mileage etc. From a tax standpoint, I am almost certain I left money on the table. Nonetheless, I was eager to soak information up like a sponge at the summit and implement findings with my own practice.

Panel 1: The Female Gaze – Cinematographers’ Talk included a lineup of accomplished ladies of the lens.  The overarching theme was that these ladies don’t wish to be an anomaly.  They desire increased integration so it’s not a shock when they are on set, let alone behind the camera.  All of the panelist emphasized the importance of networking, as fostering relationships can work wonders for your career, and you will learn more in the field than you will ever learn in a classroom.

Summit Attendee Pass, Branded Materials and Goodie Bag from the #GirlPowerSummit

Discussion included female representation in film, and offered insights into their creative processes.  Some of the panel members started out with Canon 7D, Bolex or Super 8 cameras.  There was dialogue about affluent students at some of the nation’s most revered film programs having access to state-of-the-art equipment, and not experiencing challenges securing funding to shoot their student films. Isabella Tan, founder of Rebel Motion attended NYU.  She stated, “Some people are privileged and have funding for great equipment, don’t get discouraged.” A poignant response statement from Valentina Caniglia, Director & Cinematographer of “Gypsy” and “The Stand” is “a great camera can still produce a bad product.” 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Camera doesn’t matter! It is about the cinematographer who tells the camera what to do.
  • Emphasis should be placed on THE STORY and DRIVING THE NARRATIVE, LENS SELECTION, LIGHTING and TONE.
  • Ultimately, the director and overall collaboration are greater project contributors than equipment.

The Distribution Down Low with Christina Raia from Seed & Spark was particularly informative.  Christina is a Crowdfunding Director who successfully led several campaigns.  Distribution is usually a confusing topic for independent creators, so it was wonderful to have her break it down with tips and tricks, and an explanation of the economics for every aspect from VOD to theatrical.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Understand the importance of DATA TRANSPARENCY.  Raia stated, “They don’t want to share the info because it gives power to the creators.”
  • DON’T COMMIT to only one revenue source.
  • Explore niche markets and innovative ideas to reach your audience.  TAKE RISKS with your independent film.

This was my first time attending an event held by and geared towards women in film and media. This blog post barely grazes the surface with topics discussed. Overall, the atmosphere was amazing and definitely female-centric! I’d like to thank Susie and Patrice, the organizers and everyone else involved with bringing this event together. I am also extremely grateful for the guest-list addition (as the tickets were $95 otherwise). The Girl Power Film + Media Summit & Showcase was worth much more than the ticket price. The value of the knowledge I walked away with far exceeded the associated cost.

Inducted: Order of Omega National Greek Honor Society

Briana M. Andrews – Order of Omega Induction Ceremony – March 25, 2019

On Monday, March 25, 2019, I was inducted into Rowan University’s Sigma Zeta Chapter of Order of Omega.  Order of Omega recognizes juniors and seniors who have exemplified high standards in the areas of scholarship, leadership, and involvement within their organizations, campuses and communities.  It functions as an adjunct to traditional organizations and members are selected from the top 10% percent of students within the fraternity/sorority community.

Logo / Crest for Order of Omega – Greek Leaders Honor Society


There are 570 chapters of Order of Omega chartered throughout North America with the common goal of recognizing student-leaders and I am proud to be included in this elite group.  It also means a lot to me to represent both my organization and the NPHC on this platform.