Blog, business, post production for film and video

Anti-Body needs your help to start a co-op in Liberia

Anti-Body/Liberia yard sale poster

Do you like garage sales? If you do, head over to Silverlake this Saturday for a benefit yard sale Anti-Body is holding in support of the new co-op that they are working to start in Liberia.If you have done your homework, Anti-Body is the company that is featured in our movie The Fair Trade, started by twin sisters Tamara and Shelby and Shelby’s husband Steve. Their products are now featured in Whole Foods Markets as well as private label skincare products all over the place.

The Coconut Campaign is trying to purchase a coconut press for a budding co-op in Liberia, so that they can start providing fair-trade coconut oil to Anti-Body:

In order to start this operation, $35,000 is needed which includes the purchase of the coconut oil press ($9,650), shipping from India, packaging, travel, and starting wages. To ensure the success of this enterprise, Anti-Body will provide the Liberian co-op team with training in safety procedures and quality-control, educational assistance, health care and a starting wage of $50 a month. Regular meetings and third-party distribution will further the future capacity of the Liberian fair trade cooperative.

So we’re helping by selling some stuff. And hopefully you will be buying some stuff.

Here’s the information:

Date: Saturday, May 16, 2009
Time: 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Location: 722 Parkman Avenue
City: Silverlake, CA
Info on the co-op:
Info on the Coconut Campaign:

See you there!

Blog, business, post production for film and video

How to push past viral, or, viral is dead

So, we’re getting our first month sales figures back from the November 18 release of The Fair Trade movie, which is very exciting, especially since the preliminary numbers look really good, at least for a production of our size. But how do you keep the momentum going? I’m spending time checking conversion metrics on Google (absolutely none), Yahoo (none), and Facebook (a few sales that I know of), and trying to think up new ways to make the movie into a truly viral success. And then I read a post by Joe Marchese, where, in the same article, he quote a fellow panelist (Henry Jenkins) who says “When it comes to social media, if it doesn’t spread, it’s dead,” (i.e., viral is good!) but then goes on to say

But before you try to say the word v…v…vi…viral (had trouble spitting that one out), there is a key difference that Jenkins pointed out between viral and social spreading. People spread viruses by accident. It is not intentional to give someone a cold — at least I sure hope not — but when people pass things to each other by way of social interaction, there most certainly is intent. This means that people are rational about spreading something through their social connections.

And he’s right. I realize that I don’t want The Fair Trade to have a “viral” spread. I want people to intentionally tell other people about it, and then spread from person to person to group to group. So how do I do that?

Well, sales help, because the more people that see it, the more people who want to talk about it. But I would love to help that process along, and I’m still brainstorming how to go about encouraging people to “intentionally” spread the word about the movie.

I’ll keep you posted.

Blog, business, graphic design, post production for film and video

Case Study: The Fair Trade movie online branding, part 4


The Fair Trade movie at screenshotA re-branding of the MySpace page was completed on October 17, 2008. The look of the page now closely resembles other pieces of the online presence for the movie, as well as directs people much more quickly to the official TFT site.

The TFT trailer has been viewed over 300 times on MySpace; we have a network of over 500 “friends” that we can push information out to through the MySpace network.

Tamara Johnston and Rayne Roberts have been consistently intrumental in adding friends, sending bulletins, and responding to messages on the MySpace account.

In the future, it would be interesting to see how much larger we could make the MySpace network of “friends” and how that could be monetized with the upcoming DVD release.


The Fair Trade movie on Facebook screenshotThe Facebook presence is in its infancy. We have almost 50 “fans” — those who sign up as a fan. These people can be communicated with directly from Facebook, and can recommend the movie to others on Facebook.

Challenges to overcome: Facebook does not allow visual branding in the same way that MySpace does, so we cannot differentiate ourselves with visuals; additionally, we need to see how to increase our numbers and referrals here in addition to MySpace.

The Future

Opportunities for online growth come from a few areas:

  • New online content. HCS will edit and upload video of Lauralee and Tamara from the premiere, as well as possible “webisodes” that can update fans on where Tamara, Anti-Body, and the filmmakers are now.
  • New online marketing tools. Providing downloadable flyer and poster blanks for those sponsoring screenings would be a perfect way for sponsors to get the word out, and would extend our “brand” further into the online sphere.
  • New online targeted social networking. Finding social networks built around fair trade, etc. would be much more targeted than Facebook or MySpace.
  • Exploiting the retail channel. Ensuring that positive user ratings and reviews are constantly submitted to many online retailers.
  • Targeting new online efforts to a smaller audience. We should, in the future, target new online efforts to smaller, more lucrative audiences: film critics, fair trade afficionados, Christian groups, etc., in an attempt to maximize time spent online. As this article says, “there is a process of self-selection online” that means we can be much more targeted and take for granted that they already want to see something like we are offering.
  • Finally, social networking is like trying to get momentum while rolling a ball slightly uphill: it doesn’t work until gravity changes. And gravity only changes when the size of your target audience keeps growing because more and more people start intentionally spreading the word about your product. A wonderful blog post about this can be found here. Our job will be to continue to expand the audience of people who know about and advocate for The Fair Trade movie.

In part five: Updates, search ads, retail rollout recap.

Blog, business, graphic design, post production for film and video

Case Study: The Fair Trade movie online branding, part 3

Retail Search

The Fair Trade movie Google product searchRetail search is incredibly successful given that the movie is pre-order only as of November 1: “the fair trade”, fair trade movie, fair trade film, fair trade documentary all showed TFT in a top-5 spot (interestingly with different retailers for each search term combination). Additionally search rankings on Google have changed every day, even for the same search terms. Either this is due to Google changing their algorithm or retail databases changing daily. Either way, we have no control over this aspect of the seach milieu.

Retail Channels

The Fair Trade movie at Amazon screenshotThanks to the partnership with Ryko and FilmBaby, TFT has found its way into most online retailer databases, although it is hard to find in some (Target) and not at all in the largest (Walmart).

Challenges: ensuring that database information (directed by, etc.) is correct across all retailers; supporting the release; encouraging user ratings amongst those who have already seen the movie.

Image Search

Although we have not successfully made our photography lucrative to Google’s image search engine, Flickr pulls our keyword-laced photos to the top for the following search terms: fair trade movie, fair trade documentary, and fair trade film.

We are unsure of the continued necessity of trying for ubiquity on image search; however, all images used on the blog will continue to be uploaded through Flickr so that they will be indexed separately with keywords.

Overall, although we are novices at search, 90% of the traffic to the website is coming from search engines. Therefore, we are confident that we are on the right track with search engines, keywords, and optimization.

In part four: Social Networking, online video, and the future.

Blog, business, graphic design, post production for film and video

Case Study: The Fair Trade movie online branding, part 2

Website Traffic

The Fair Trade movie site stats screenshotAfter the initial buzz surrounding the premiere in January 2008, traffic to the site leveled off around 1500 visitors a month. The average user viewed two pages on the site, with the second page after the homepage most often being navigating to the trailer or music clips.

After the redesign and accompanying back-end optimization strategies, viewership jumped by another 500 viewers in October 2008. It will be interesting to see if the redesigned site and enhanced coding will make that number rise, or if it is a bounce. Also interesting will be to see how much cross-traffic there will be between the new retail channels and the website.

Blog Traffic

The Fair Trade movie blog stats screenshotThe blog started small, with less than 1,000 people viewing it in each of the first two months. The slow start was unsurprising due to the fact that there were only a few posts and even fewer links to other sites and blogs. As the blog matured and gained links in search engines and social linking sites (Digg, Technorati, etc.) the viewership of the blog skyrocketed, with over 6,000 viewers accessing the site in October 2008.

The challenge for the future of the blog is ascertaining how to monetize the impact of the blog — converting blog-views into sales.

Search Engines

The Fair Trade movie Google search resultsThe Fair Trade movie now occupies the top spot on Google for the following search terms: fair trade movie, fair trade film, “the fair trade movie”, “fair trade movie”; and top-10 spots for the following search terms: “the fair trade”, Lauralee Farrer, fair trade documentary.

On YouTube, The Fair Trade has top-5 placement for the following search terms: fair trade movie, fair trade film. (Unfortunately, the search for fair trade documentary sends us to a video on the premiere that was not produced by BH.) The trailer has been viewed over 600 times on YouTube alone. (Interestingly, the Lauren clip has been viewed over 600 times [more than the trailer] — maybe because she is romantically involved with Seth Rogen.)

This positions The Fair Trade as the first and most important film dealing with the subject of fair trade, an enormous success. The credit for this success must go to Lauralee for naming the movie The Fair Trade — every keyword you are looking for right in the movie title.

Tomorrow: retail search and retail channel saturation

Blog, business, graphic design, post production for film and video

Case Study: The Fair Trade movie online branding, part 1


Online marketing for the documentary was ramped up around November-December 2007, in anticipation of a January 2008 premiere for The Fair Trade. Since then dozens of screenings have taken place, countless smaller-scale screenings have occurred, and the film has shown at several festivals. Fortuitously, FilmBaby inked a partnership with Ryko Distribution that we were able to exploit to move TFT into retail channels.
Every step of the process of rollout, screening, and distribution, has been documented online through blogs, a re-designed website, and presence on several social networking sites. Through a continued attention to these avenues, TFT’s online buzz continues to grow. For a very small amount of money, we have achieved an incredible level of online recognition. This movie is a textbook case on how to accomplish online promotion of a small movie with almost no budget.


Moving forward, several challenges remain. As the DVD rolls into retail channels in November, some amount of support or marketing should accompany the release date. Additionally, attention needs to be paid to how best to boost 1) sales and 2) user ratings on each of the retail sites. We would like to see a continued increase in web traffic to the blog, website, and then move each of those visits to a sale.

Finally, a long-term online strategy needs to be envisioned: will the website stay up indefinitely? Should the blog have a termination-date, or transition to a multi-user forum instead of the blog? How can we best market the movie in the long-term, with a minimum of involvement from the BH team? These questions will need to be addressed as the online presence for the film moves into maturity.

The Website

The Fair Trade movie homepage screenshotA successful website was launched in Q4 2007, designed by Travis Hardy, that supported the rollout of the film in Q1 2008. With the maturation of the movie and the impending DVD rollout, the site was redesigned in September 2008, integrating new reviews, festival announcements, additional video content, and the integration of social networking tie-ins to maximize the movie’s (and site’s) exposure.

In the beginning, the site was the primary online method for disseminating information about the movie. As time goes on, the site’s function will change to be that of secondary “repository” of rich media and static content; dynamic content will be added to the blog and social networks.

Nevertheless, the website has been an excellent marketing tool.

Tomorrow: website traffic, blog traffic, and search engine optimization (SEO).

Blog, business, graphic design, post production for film and video

Tooting my own horn…

Just wanted to pat myself on the back. And pat a bunch of other backs too. The group of us who created The Fair Trade movie, a documentary about Tamara Johnston McMahon, loss, grief, and fair trade business, have worked hard to get the story out. And, with the help of FilmBaby, Ryko Distribution, and Hearken Creative Services, we are now in just about every online retailer:,, Circuit City, Barnes & Noble, Deep Discount DVD, Best Buy, and many others like Target and, well, you get the idea. In the next few days, I’ll probably outline here on the blog just how we went about getting this kind of exposure, and what kind of challenges we still have. But, in the meantime, it’s really exciting to see your movie showing up all over the place. Cool.