A PRIMER - "How to have fun AND find your audience"
Sometimes it is the smallest of coincidences, sometimes big breaks, sometimes who you know, sometimes a network right under your nose and sometimes it is a hot day in August. Hell, it is always a hot day in August in Texas.
One hot Friday evening in August 2005, on the opening weekend of football season, my film team and I jumped from High School stadium to High School stadium in Austin to ask fans attending their local games if they had heard of Six Man Football. Our intention was to create an opening sequence for the film "Six Man, Texas", showing how most football fans had not heard of Six Man football even in Texas, where Six Man is bigger than anywhere else. We also knew UT was opening their season on Saturday so we met early the next morning to catch a few UT tailgaters before the crowds hit.
We drove to the guards near the stadium and talked them into letting us park illegally for a few hours and interview the early tailgate crowds as they were setting up for the game that day. After a few hours of filming and paperwork we were ready to wrap it and find some lunch. But we decided to ask one last group as we lugged the gear back to the truck. When we asked if they had ever heard of Six Man one of them yelled, "Hey Ken, come talk to these guys, they wanna know about Six Man!"
That is how we met Ken Capps, self-proclaimed Six Man aficionado and University of Texas booster par excellence. Ken proceeded to reveal many wonderful stories about his experiences watching Six Man while the camera rolled. That weekend I reviewed the footage, cut a rough together and took it to my editor, Mike Scannell, to review. We later included my opening sequence in the first cut of the film, but by December of that year mine was dropped in favor of Mike Scannell's much more visually compelling assembly of shots. Except for the Ken Capps sequence. Mike had fallen in love with Ken's enthusiasm and by the summer of 2007, as we approached a final cut of the film, Mike found a spot for a small piece of the Ken interview.
Fast forward to Spring of 2008. After our fantastic World Premiere experience at AFI Dallas Ken inquired about a Private Screening at his Sports-themed Party Room built behind his house in one of the Old Dallas neighborhoods just North of the Inwood theater. He wanted to invite friends who missed the film, some sports-writers and press folks. So we decided to call it a Private Press Screening and Ken was off to the races organizing what would become, as Mike calls it, our best screening ever.
From an invitation for a few friends and press folks the list grew until there was simply not enough room to hold everyone. So Ken installed ANOTHER SCREEN on the deck to hold the overflow. June 14th arrived and the crowd grew and grew until time to screen. It was by far the most involved crowd and the most fun, a diverse group of sports fans, friends of Ken's, press and players. Mix that with great BBQ, lots of drinks and snacks and you have a recipe for a great screening. We even had the Mai-Tai boat from Trader Vic's in Dallas to add to the drink options and ambience. Ken also found some shorts to warm up the crowd, a group of spots about Six Man in Texas done by his friend Tammie Kleinmann. The shorts were great pieces, beautifully done and informative. We were honored to have them screen before the film.
There was a LOT of interest in our film after the screening and I am still following-up on opportunities to get the word out and move toward distribution. The lesson here? Find someone like Ken Capps for your film project, inspire them and let them run with the ball. You will have a much better time AND it will help you discover your true audience. Thank you Ken, and thank you to everyone who attended - ALAN