ARKANSAS CINEMA SOCIETY-- "FILMLAND"
One sign of maturity, I suppose, is to be able to admit when one is out-classed. As someone who has helped organize 24-hour-film competitions, screenplay writing contests, and motion picture education seminars, I know the challenges and work involved. Kathryn Tucker, Jeff Nichols, Graham Gordy, and everyone at the Arkansas Cinema Society, however, have taken to a new, higher level the building of an Austin-like film culture in Little Rock. In just its second year, the ACS has just completed the resoundingly successful, four-day FILMLAND event.
The official ACS Mission Statement is worth quoting: "We're building a film community in Arkansas where film lovers can watch films, share ideas, connect with each other, and nurture the new and existing film talent within our state through increased exposure to filmmakers and their art."
I'll leave the recent pesky details and name-dropping to practitioners of the journalistic and public relations arts, but can attest that the proverbial good time was had by all during the first annual FILMLAND. Congratulations. Can't wait to see what Kathryn, Jeff, Gordy, their sponsors and associates do next.
Ron Robinson moved on to an honored celestial marketing executive position on August 14. His agency--Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods--had been a favorite production client for decades.
Ron was one of the three Little Rock movers-and-shakers who were charitable enough to write letters of recommendation when I applied to the PhD program at the Department of Heritage Studies at Arkansas State University--Jonesboro. He was the first person to address me a "Dr. Jones"--long before it was legitimate to do so. Ron was one of those individuals to whom the terms "icon" and "larger-than-life" were NOT hyperbole. He will be missed. We are not likely to see his kind again in the Little Rock market.
You can watch Ron's tribute video here. It was produced by Deborah Grace and edited by Seth Padgett. Dr. David Stricklin--director of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies--delivered one of Ron's eulogies. You can view it here. One of Ron's lasting legacies is the CALS Ron Robinson Theater. I created a series of work-in-progress and Opening Night videos of the theater. Check them out here.
And, of course, it should be fitting that Ron has the last word.
TOO MUCH INFORMATION (?)
In the olden days, I would mail out a printed Hype & Jive newsletter more or less every month. I never knew how many tri-folds wound up in the trash without even having been read. In my self-delusion, I imagined that EVERYBODY read every witticism and were all suitably impressed. :-)
In this day of marvelous technology, however, one can tell exactly how many people OPEN an email and how many people actually CLICK THRU to watch a video. More to the point, one can determine all the recipients who DELETED an email without bothering to UNSUBSCRIBE. This sort of precise snd unequivocal feedback is....well, sobering. For example, for a perfectly wonderful video I sent around a few days ago, the open rate to date has been 37% with a 9.9% click rate. Seems discouraging--except that the average "Marketing & Advertising" statistics are a 16.48% click open rate and 1.74% click rate. In other words (for you math-challenged creative types), the industry average for every 100 emails in less that two people watching/reading your message. By those industry standards, Gary Jones Video is doing "pretty good."
Alas, I miss the days of printing bulk rate postage stickers, dumping the printed newsletters into a mail box, and reveling in self-delusion. :-) Of course, one can IGNORE the email program reports and remain blissfully ignorant of the challenge of direct email...but where's the fun in that. :-)
If I may quote from the program of the Henry Awards Banquet at the 44th Annual Governor's Conference on Tourism held March 11-13, 2018 in West Memphis:
"Captured by legendary Arkansas filmmaker Gary Jones, ArkansasTravelChannel.com is a free online service from Gary Jones Video that offers original videos of tourism topics within Arkansas. Filmed from border to border though all seasons, these high-quality videos include eye-level and aerial views of Arkansas's breathtaking natural beauty, historic treasures, events, cities, and towns. Viewers can also enjoy insights from Gary's blog."
Uh, "insights"? "Very occasional, random wiseacre asides" is more descriptive of my writing style, but I appreciated the description. GJV was a finalist for the Media Support Award won by AY Arkansas magazine.
And, yes, I know this is in unnecessary boldface type. I simply haven't figured out yet how to turn it off.
Maybe next entry.
Well, this is embarrassing: a year since I was kicked to the curb for being too old and independent, and I only have three piddling blog entries to show for it. At least there have been enough Akansas Travel Channel features squeezed through the ol' video sausage-maker for me to allow myself to maintain the title of "filmmaker". I've never claimed to be much of a "blogger" or "column writer", although I've always wished my writing skills were on a par with my photography.
Much of YEAR ONE has been a reality check--or RE-check. Yes, State Tax Reports and paperwork are a pain in the derriere. Yes, reinvention of oneself at active Elder Statesman/Producer is a challenge. Agency creatives do not fall over themselves to work with guys old enough to be their grandfather. :-)
And technology has introduced new-and-iproved reality checks that certainly work to counter any remaining self-delusions. Once upon a time one sent out printed promotional mailers and never really knew who opened and read them. Then email came along and, again, the reception to sales efforts were often blissfully vague. Now, however, proper email aggregators can tell you exactly who tossed your promotion gem in the virtual wastebasket without even opening the message. Even more sobering are the statistics on the number of recipients who open but do not bother to "click-through" to the video links.
So, to the few and friendly who at least have a passing interest in video production from the GJV perspective, I say "thanks". To the fewer still who actually watch some on the videos linked in our promotions, please add an "amen" to the "thanks". And to the fewest off the few who remember the rambunctious heritage of "Hype & Jive" and still check the blog to see if I've retained my cherished wiseacre status, I say "thanks" and hope that the staff at your assisted living facility are treating you kindly. :-)
I'm not too old to remain a valuable filmmaking partner, but I'm definitely too damn old to be learning web design. :-) Bear with me, folks, while I figure out all the web site stuff.
I'm shifting everything from "Jones Film" to "Gary Jones Video" in an attempt to assuage the Swagger Squad. And I'm moving from eNom web hosting to PairNIC because of security issues.
(Trigger Warning: the following post is sans satire and heavy on the sentimentality.)
These blog postings serve three purposes: (1) entertainment (sometimes), (2) enlightenment (upon rare occasions), and (3) as legacy documents--an intermittant diary, if you will--that may be read long after I'm gone (assuming that my kids and grandkids remember to keep up the monthly eNom fees :-).
For the benefit of those of you who wonder why-the-heck I don't retire, here is my Mission Statement (of sorts):
I love Arkansas and have long felt privileged to have opportunities to photograph its many scenic wonders and historical treasures over the years (decades, actually). I plan to continue following that passion as long as I am physically able. I think I still have much to contribute in the area of travel and tourism—especially heritage tourism. If, indeed, I am deemed too old or intractable in some circles of influence to be a part of their hardcore commercial initiatives, then I consider that their loss—not mine. No one—no corporate entity--owns Arkansas sunrises or our state's natural beauty and colorful history.
Some acquaintances chide me to do more “positive thinking” and interpret my alter egos' attempts at ironic humor as “sarcasm” and “cynicism”--instead of the intended examples of exemplary Swiftian satire. Perhaps I do need to stifle my penchant for wiseacre wordplay.
Naw, not yet. :-)
Although my occasional satirical asides elicit considerable approbation from many folks, it does get me into hot water from time to time. (Some people have no sense of humor when it’s their ox being gored. :-)
I think some friends—or “long-time acquaintances”—might like to see me hang up my commercial production spurs and retire to academe or to some presumably less unseemly pursuits. However, although I may be past full-tilt-boogie striving and thriving, I plan to keep surviving—and to keep doing what I still can do pretty darn well.
Six Rules for Sexagenarian Filmmakers
(Gary Jones Video with advice from local advertising experts Run Run Amuck and Tad Frugal.)
RRA: Tell me you did not just post to your Gary Jones Video Facebook page a video of a dog shaking its ass.
GWJ: I was shooting from the other end.
TF: Dogs are big in Arkansas. Haven't you ever heard of Arkansas Parks & Tourism's "Barkansas" campaign? http://arkansas.com/barkansas/
RRA: Quit pulling my leg and listen to me. Both of you. All the research dictates that you need to protect your brand as a purveyor of high-end commercial cinematography! You can't be posting crap with wet dogs.
GWJ: But a very prominent producer--who for some reason wants to remain anonymous--was paying me to film the pets at Springfest.
RRA: That's just great. People actually saw you out there? No wonder the producer wants to remain anonymous. They would be embarrassed to be associated with this!
TF: Maybe you should have shot cats. Cats are big on YouTube.
GWJ: I didn't see any cats. And do they shake water off like dogs?
RRA: Forget the home movies! You're the only one in the state who has shot 65mm IMAM film, for pete's sake. You need to get back to doing high-end stuff. Why pay big bucks for research and my consulting fee is you are going to ignore it?!?
GWJ: Wait. What "big bucks" research? I was just asking your advice...as a friend.
RRA: And I'm giving you my "friendly" rate. You want to get back into the game or not?
TF: Hold it. How can you keep your rates cheap, cheap, cheap if you're shelling out for research and consultants?
(to be continued)
After the sale of the former Jones Productions, I reached out to two erstwhile partners from the days before the 2006 detour. Run Run Amuck and Tad Frugal (pseudonyms, of course, of two well-known advertising industry insiders) had been instrumental in making Jones Productions' "Hype & Jive" the most-widely-read promotional newsletter in Arkansas. (The fact that "H&J" was the only such newsletter in the state is beside the point.) In fact, Run Run Amuck (whose non de plume was inspired by the infamous Hong Kong film producer Run Run Shaw and his brother Run Me) was so enamored of the "Hype & Jive" name that he tried to use it as the title of awful potboiler of a novel supposedly about the steamy, backroom goings-on of the Little Rock advertising world. To make a long story short, Run Run sued me. I counter-sued and the experience left us estranged for many years. After losing his lawsuit, he decamped to Nevada and found his true calling as the manager of a string of legal brothels.
Run Run was the first to email me when he got word that Jones Productions had been renamed ("rebranded" as we say in the ad biz) and quickly sold to a longstanding competitor.
RUN RUN AMUCK: Serves you right. Hope you are going to do the decent thing now and retire to your chicken farm.
GWJ: Nope. Gonna get back into the game.
RRA: Give me a break. You got snookered. What are you calling your new shop? "Blindsided Productions"? Or how about "Collateral Damage Videos and Lawnmoving Services"?
GWJ: Nope. Reclaiming "Jones Film Video", of course, for commercial work and dusting off the "SERAfilms" dba for doing video publishing.
RRA: "Video publishing"? Is that a codeword for getting into porn videos? Man, do I have some contacts in that area.
GWJ: Good gravy, no! We're talking long-form web and social network videos.
RRA: Hmmm. Well, if the agency and corporate stuff doesn't work out, get back to me.
GWJ: Actually, I AM getting back to you to see if you would like to contribute some blog writing to the "new and improved" Hype & Jive newsletter?
RRA: You're kidding, right? I'm finally making an honest living and you want me to stoop to commentary on Arko-American advertising?
GWJ: Indeed. I think you are uniquely qualified.
RRA: Are you also planning to resurrect the Groundhog Grog-a-rama? Those things were always fertile ground for tabloid fodder.
GWJ: Maybe. They were expensive, and I'm starting out with a very modest business plan.
RRA: I'll bet. Probably using your social security as start up funding.
GWJ: Well, think about it. There are still a few Old Hands out there who remember your acid tongue and biting wit.
RRA: I dunno. How much are you paying per word?
At this point, the email exchange became rather heated and inappropriate for a Millennial Audience. Stay tuned to see if Run Run Amuck comes on board. Tad Frugal, on the other hand was eager to rejoin the Hype & Jive effort.
Tad Frugal: Told you so.
GWJ: Told me what?
TF: That you should have been concentrating on cheap, cheap, cheap.
GWJ: Sometimes quality creative can be inexpensive, but it often costs serious money.
TF: Bull feathers--or is it horse feathers? Anyway, "creativity" is overrated. People want cheap, cheap, cheap.
GWJ: You've already said that. Besides, both SERAfilms and Jones Film Video are now unburdened by high overhead and will be very cost-competitive.
TF: We'll see. And I'll be glad to contribute to your waste-of-time promotional e-rag as long as you accept that I really have one thing to say.
GWJ: Yeah, yeah. "Cheap. Cheap. Cheap.