movies

What We Can Learn From Horror Remixes

This month’s theme is creativity and that got us thinking about something that doesn’t seem very creative at all: remakes, reboots and sequels (by the way, it’s not your imagination, the number of sequels and remakes is on the rise).

Scary movies (’tis the season of Halloween) are notorious for this trick:

Nightmare on Elm Street: 9 Movies; Halloween (franchise): 10 Movies; Final Destination: 5 Movies; Check out this list from AMC that lists a lot more, half of which are Halloween-related. 

You might not think that sequels would be a source for creativity but if anything, sequels force their writers to be creative. After all, you have to get movie goers to come back for something fresh while keeping enough of what they liked about the first movies. It’s a creative art.

So what are some ways movie sequels force creativity?

Tone it Up, Tone it Down

Filmmakers wills often play with the tone of their source work. Take a look at the original Evil Dead franchise of the ’80s and ’90s, where filmmaker Sam Raimi combined splatter, camp and a healthy dollop of Three Stooges-type humor.

Fast forward to Fede Alvarez’s 2013 remake, which toned down the humor and ramped up the gore, appealing to a new generation of horror fans that cut their teeth on shock-films such as the Saw franchise.

Fans of the original, meanwhile, were given an added bonus last year with the debut of the Starz series “Ash vs Evil Dead,” with the return of Bruce Campbell in the roll of Ash, and a couple of younger sidekicks. So there’s something for everyone.

Remix The Character

Some villains leave a lasting mark on the pop culture conscience. In terms of horror, look no further than Dracula, who has been remixed, rebooted and reimagined countless times since Bram Stoker unleashed the vampire on the world nearly 120 years ago.

As originally written, ol’ Drac was not all that attractive, with a unibrow and prominent “aquiline” nose. Yet, he still possessed a certain old, old, old world charm.

In 1922, Dracula was reimagined as the rat-like Count Orlock in F. W. Murnau’s unauthorized silent film masterpiece, “Nosferatu,” swapping out the character’s pose for a more demonic presence.

The Dracula best remembered is from the 1931 film starring Bela Lugosi, which shows the blood sucker as a sophisticated, urbane lady’s man.

“Dracula” film remakes went on and on in the decades to come, with actors such as Christopher Lee to Gary Oldman each leaving a unique mark on the character with significant tonal differences.

Dracula, by the way, is himself a fictional remix of a re-world monster, Vlad Tepes, or Vlad the Impaler, a 13th-century Wallachian prince best known for — you guessed it — impaling his enemies.

Remix The Location

Taking the same cast but changing location is another way to change things up. It’s no secret that if you took, say, your office and cranked the temperature 30 degrees (or lowered it 30 degrees) the same people would act very differently.

Again, look at Dracula, or rather, works inspired by “Dracula.” “Vampire in Brooklyn” and “‘Salem’s Lot” take the same basic premise as “Dracula,” but tweak the characters and moves the action from London to New York and rural Maine, respectively.

This plot device isn’t limited to vampires. Check out both “An American Werewolf in London” and “An American Werewolf in France.”

Remix Everything

One thing most people can agree on is that a good remake can stand on its own. Sometimes the best way to do that is to completely rebuild the source material, as Stanley Kubrick did with “The Shining.” Kubrick’s film retains much of the original plot structure from the original source — Stephen King’s novel — but characters and tone differ wildly.

The conflict in King’s work involves not only the supernatural, but alcoholism, inescapable personal demons and the destruction of the family unit. The character Jack Torrence is nuanced enough so that when he finally succumbs to both the personal and supernatural demons, it’s as heartbreaking as it is frightening.

Kubrick’s vision, meanwhile, is as cold as the snow enveloping the Overlook Hotel, and Jack Nicholson portrays Torrence as a ticking time bomb. It’s not a question of if Torrence will go completely psycho on his family, but when. As a result, Kubrick’s rachets up the suspense to an almost unbearable degree.

(Spoiler alert: Ever wonder what happened to Danny Torrence, after his unfortunate state at the Overlook? King revisited him decades later in his 2013 novel, “Doctor Sleep.”)

Chef: The Best Movie About Social Networking I’ve Seen

I’m one of those people who enjoys learning more about my topic when I am off the job. I read social media books and magazines… and have even tried to watch “Helvetica” (a movie about the font).

I just couldn’t do “Helvetica”… it was too cerebral for me. There are enough things in my life that make me feel dumb that I didn’t make myself watch this movie.

When I agreed to watch “Chef” on Saturday night with my friend Megan and her daughter, I thought I was watching a movie about a five star chef who ends up with a food truck. I wasn’t expecting so much of it to be about social networking. Here’s what I liked about it.

Chef Takeaway 1: It didn’t treat Twitter like Facebook’s ugly stepsister.

In this movie, Twitter plays a main role, some critics say it’s a ridiculously large role but I appreciated that this movie showed how Twitter works and why it’s powerful/cool. Bonus points for seeing the tweets being typed in and then having them turn into a bird an ‘tweet’ off into the world as they were sent.

tweetsinchef

Chef Takeaway 2: It touched on a bunch of social networks. 

Sometimes movies about blogging (I’m looking at you ‘Julie and Julia’) make the main character blogger sit at their computer for hours on end, tortured by the writing process.

Here’s the thing. Some of us are writers (I say us because I am literally typing this with a big smile on my face) and some are not. In this movie, we’re not only introduced to short form writing (tweets) but also other media like Youtube and Vine.

The range of what could be possible is enough to give the movie watcher a sense of what is possible but doesn’t go into the ‘how’ enough to overwhelm people.

Chef Takeaway 3: Your kid can do your social networking…kind of.

There’s always some extremely rude person who tells me after a presentation that their kid can do what I do. (Kind of insulting since I don’t walk up to THEM and tell them a kid could do their job but that’s besides the point.)

Here’s the thing about this movie: the kid is PASSIONATE about the business. That’s why he does a good job marketing it. It’s not that he’s young and up with technology (though that helps). I’m of the mindset that if you are open to learning and passionate about what you do, your business will do well on social media with you at the helm… though if you either a) don’t want to take care of it or b) need a little technical or other assistance, that’s what people like us are for.

So if you want to watch a movie that will make you want to tweet or eat a grilled cheese (I am still thinking about the grilled cheese in that movie), I recommend ‘Chef’. You won’t think hard necessarily or feel like you are in a social media marketing workshop but it’ll get you thinking… which, let’s face it, is pretty powerful.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Why You Only Need 300 Fans

Thumbs up or like symbol in coffee froth

I’ve been working with small businesses for over six years now, from the ‘ we haven’t even opened yet’ stage to running for multiple generations. And I’ve noticed a bit of a pattern.

Once we reach about the 300 fan mark on some social media platform (usually Facebook), they seem to do much better. Payments are more likely to come in on time, they are more open to us experimenting with their marketing, they are just generally more confident, likely because they are seeing traction, financially and otherwise.

There is a part of all of us that probably wants to be famous. We want to be sitting on the Today Show stage or on the front page of the New York Times, saying our equivalent of ‘golly gee, we started in our basement/garage/spare bedroom and look at us now!’

But we don’t need millions of customers and we don’t even need thousands to survive or even thrive. We just need a few hundred. Here’s why.

You’ll have customers at different levels.

In our business we have a mix of people we deal with:

Many are once or twice a year customers: they aren’t giving us lots of money but they also don’t need very much from us either.

We have some that are our power users. We are on retainer, make thousands a year from them, and are in regular contact.

Then there are people in between.

Whether you provide services like us or sell products, I bet you have customers at base, mid, and high levels of offerings.

People who move between levels, and  new customers come in as well to balance those who to elsewhere, go out of business, etc. (If you don’t have multiple levels of products, you may want to rethink that!)

Your business can’t survive on one client (well, it can but then you are kind of their employee then, aren’t you?). But you also don’t also need to kill yourself trying to serve thousands of people either since you are meeting different customers’ needs differently.

You’ll have repeat customers if you know what you’re doing.

The hardest sale is the first sale. Once people are used to working with you, however, that second (or third or twentieth) sale is not only easier but more fun.

If you have a good product with good service, you’ll have repeat customers in some capacity, whether they always stay in your hotel when they come to town or buy cheese from your shop every year for their holiday party.

Your customers have friends and family.

There will be people in your business life who inexplicably love you. There are people I have met in my travels and I have no idea why they like me so much… but they do. And they tell other people.

Every time a loyal customer sends someone your way who buys, that’s another sale you didn’t have to bust your hump for. In the biz, people call these ‘brand mavens’ (and there is a few other words for them) but they are your vocal minority spreading the love. And if you have just a few of these in the mix, they do wonders.

Between these three principles, it seems like most people need to stop worrying about getting millions to like them and work on getting 300 people to love them.

Because 300 people, and the fact that their your people, makes a big difference. And it’s not just me who’s noticed:

(Fun Fact: Kassie watches this before running marathons. I had to ask her what the movie was about.)

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

What I Thought About Julie and Julia

Breaking Even blog is mostly business and money related but Fridays, I’m going to write about whatever I darn well feel like. Because aren’t Fridays supposed to be fun?

My alternative Superbowl consisting of 'Julie and Julia' and a lot of carbohydrates was splendid.

And when I think of fun lately, I keep thinking about the part of last weekend where I parked my butt on a couch. Instead of watching the Superbowl last Sunday, ie the most watched television program in recorded history, I watched ‘Jule and Julia’. It was a movie about cooking and blogging, two of my favorite things.

I actually enjoyed myself. Meryl Streep’s performance makes me wish I would have met the real Julia Child and Amy Adams makes an adorable blogger.

My first, eye-rollingly geeky first impression is that this movie makes blogging look easy. Within a few months, Julie’s blog gets over 50 comments in one day and by the end, the New York Times has featured her. I’ve been blogging going on three years. Honestly, I’m ecstatic when more than two of you reading this decide to comment.

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Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

What Would Jesus Buy?

What Would Jesus Buy: Whether you agree with the tactics or not, this movie reminds us all the reason for the season.
I subscribe to the Daily Worth newsletter, where I was alerted today that the movie “What Would Jesus Buy” was streaming for free on Snagfilms. Being that it was Friday afternoon and I was getting much else done, I decided to watch it.
It was a pretty good tongue in cheek look at our consumerist culture, which ramps up to new levels during the holiday season. Seeing clips of crazy shopping footage, encouraging television anchors (buy now!), and pervasive holiday commericals all together made me realize just how bad it was. Sometimes I forget about these things since I don’t have cable!

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Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Marketing Monday: Garfunkel and Oates

Every Monday, I talk about individuals or companies promoting themselves in a neat way online. Feel free to contact me to nominate yourself or a friend; I’m always looking for new ideas.

It’s almost a sure thing to say that video is the next big internet thing.

Alright, that came out wrong. I am certainly not saying that people aren’t using video effectively now but I think that in the next few years, just like now most everyone has a website, in a few years most everyone will have video on their website. And as cameras get more affordable and videos get more search engine friendly, there will be more of a reason then ever to finally get in front of a camera.

Having recently begun to appreciate Youtube more myself, I have begun checking out cool videos. Among my favorite ‘series’ is Garfunkel and Oates.

 

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Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.