Cady McClain has a winning documentary making the film festival circuit. It's called Seeing is Believing: Women Direct. In it she talks to female directors to find out how they got started, why they do what do and what's next for female directors. Also find out what's next for Cady: http://www.suzeebehindthescenes.com/2017/06/interview-soap-star-cady-mcclain-forges.html
Tanya Clarke has her roots in the soap world. Now she's taking on roles in movies and on TV. Read more about her in this exclusive interview: www.suzeebehindthescenes.com/2017/10/interview-tanya-clark-of-driver-x-movie.html
Visit www.SuzeeBehindtheScenes.com for news on our clients as well as entertainment news with a New York/New Jersey spin. There are interviews, reviews and news on people in entertainment with new posts weekly. All with an emphasis on females in entertainment #femalesinentertainment.
I asked one of my author clients the other day, "How is your next book coming along?"
"Oh, she sighed, "I've decided I'm not writing this month. I'm too distracted."
This author just had her book launched the past month, and from spending years in the focused, well-planned out, almost cozy world of just getting the writing done she was plunged into the crazy world of marketing in the day of e-books, self-published books, the dreaded Internet and the maze that is Amazon. Not that finding an agent and actually getting it published was not an enviable accomplishment, but the road to actually selling that book now is not a clear path and it is filled with obstacles. In other words, though there is a method to writing and getting a book published, there's no GPS for selling it.
She had asked me to get her into some major national publications and mass media. I told her that it is very hard to do, but not impossible. I told her there's less space, less writers, and less readers and viewers of mass media. It's not like everyone watches the evening news anymore. It's fine to target them, but you also have to go after the smaller writers, bloggers, radio, podcasts and other media with their dedicated audiences.
The author is bewildered and annoyed at the almost infinite amount of media there is to pursue. My advice is to research, make a media list, and prioritize. The universe of media that can be utilized is so overwhelming that progress on your intended media list should be the benchmark of success in any campaign. And this is just concerning the quest for earned media, what to do on social media is a whole other animal.
She was also upset to hear how more than one of the top publishers have created their own pay-to-play ventures.
No one really knows how this will affect the market; a market already inundated with self-published books, vanity presses making authors out of anyone and therefore supposedly tarnishing the reputation of authors who were "truly" published, but this all could change.
What I can say for certain is that it's great for PR people like me and for book bloggers and reviewers. We all have a lot of work to do. Also, the avid book reader is the ultimate victor as the choices are almost endless.
What all of this does do overall is allow readers a greater selection of books, at better prices and with easier access. With the click of a mouse now rather than a physical journey to a brick and mortar store a book downloads in minutes for probably less money than would have been spent on a physical book. A consumer can also buy many more books for the same amount of money than in years past. This is not to say that overall purchases will decline but rather overall sales may increase as volume takes when readers purchase more or people who would not spend discretionary income on books find that the lower prices deliver a lot of entertainment for the buck. That is good for authors.
It is part of the baby boomer mentality, the love of the bookstore. At a recent trip to a major bookseller on the highway in December I was shocked to see first of all, that the parking lot was more filled with cars than at some of the department stores along the same highway. When I went inside the place the brewing with people, though I have to say the lines were longer at the cafe than at the check-out line. A quick look around did show that most of the people were boomers or older, though maybe 30% were younger. That's a good thing.
In one of my favorite movies, You've Got Mail, the decades old, NYC local bookstore called "The Shop Around The Corner" was forced to close because the big, bad, discount bookseller called "Fox Books" was moving in around the block.
Fast forward 15 years and now the big discounter is having trouble staying alive.
The selling game is different, the sales vehicle is different, the means to find a book to read is different, but the desire, pursuit and enjoyment of finding a good book to read really remains the same. I think books will be around for quite some time.
I was recently at a party and was talking about how I went to the New Jersey School Boards Convention in Atlantic City the prior week. Innocently enough, one friend asked me, "What did you do down there?"
The question was simple enough but there is so much involved with the question that I didn't know how to start. I put my dessert down and said, "It's a lot of training". (I left out the shopping part.)
Then I got back, "What kind of training?"
Holding my breath now, I answered, "There's lots of information that you need to know as a board member, legal stuff, HIB laws, changes in teacher tenure, Sunshine laws. There are a lot of sessions. "
I do suppose many people do not know what a Board member does. They can see when attending a board meeting what goes on at the meeting itself but I don't think most people know of of the training and education that goes into being a Board member.
I find the sessions at the yearly convention, which is officially titled, "Worskhop", for the most part, pretty interesting. There is definitely a learning curve for being on a Board, which can take months or even a year, so once you get the basics down of what you can and can't do and how you can and can't conduct yourself, then it's all about keeping up with current events, legislation and new federal and state mandates. Just like other jobs.
I always find the sessions with the legislators the most interesting. They are elected officials just like the majority of the board members and they don't have answers either. Board members ask questions of them knowing full well they don't have the answers, because there are no easy answers, but it's a great way to let off steam and feel validated in your beliefs because most likely the people sitting next to you feel the same exact way.
What is good about it though is the exchange of ideas and concerns. Board members do not get paid, most elected officials do, but in some part of the personality of anyone in pubilc service is an inherent desire to help and learn, and this is what comes out at the convention. There are many things good with NJ education, many things that need improvement, but when you see all the interested and dedicated people trying to figure out what's best for the children, that's when you know we are still headed on the right track.
The main topics of discussion at the sessions I attended this year were the new HIB laws, which stands for Harrassment, Intimidation and Bullying, and tenure reform. Both of them are paperwork and personnel intense and involve implementing a new system of doing things. HIB was the biggest topic. There were concerns that this was yet another unfunded mandate by the state government. Aside from some money set aside for districts in dire need, most districts will not see any money come their way to help cover or defray the costs of administering this program.
However, that is not stopping the districts from doing what they need to do, as anytime a mandate is handed down it is executed. Existing personnel are taking on new duties and titles. Every month at my Board meeting we get an HIB report: how many cases were investigated and which turned out to be legally deemed "HIB" instances. I will not get into here what the exact parameters of bullying are within this new law, only to say that is is quite specific and I believe, is helping to weed out and finding true bullying incidents. (Your district's policy should be on your local Board of Education website.) It is a shame that a law has to be put into effect, in essence, to teach kids "to be kind" to one another, but what is needed is needed. NJ's new law will be an example for the country. Tyler Clemente's parents should find some solace in the changes that have taken place.
I do know people whose children have been involved in investigations. For the most part when their child is the victim they are experiencing satisfaction. It may not be the old-fashioned immediate satisfaction of sitting in the principal's office, hashing it out and leaving knowing that the proper steps have been taken to prevent another incident or that the alleged perpetrators have been disciplined appropriately. Form letters are used and the investigation can take up to 10 days. Measures are taken that the parents don't always find out about. Parents have to have faith that the situation is being addressed according to the new laws.
These new HIB laws give strict rules on how to handle any suspected cases. From what I hear from parents, in addition to the buzz at Workshop this year, overall the new laws are working.
The public school system is not perfect. No school or school system is, and I believe we will see drastic changes in the way education is delivered in the next 10 years. Changes have already begun.
NJ Public Schools consistently produce some of the highest reading, writing, math and AP scores in the country. NJ also has one of the highest percentages of high school graduates in the nation attending college. Our local school boards are policy-making bodies. As every board member can reiterate, they would tell you that they are "not here to run the schools but to see that they are run efficiently." There is always rumbling of changing the system, like having more members appointed rather than elected, consolidating boards, or getting rid of them. The public school system may need some fixing but the current structure of having local schools boards oversee what is best for their district makes me believe that we are in capable hands.
As a PR professional for over 25 years, trying diligently to keep up with everything that is going in the world of PR, with keeping up with social media being the biggest challenge, I am learning the most lessons from my 11 year-old niece. Let me preface this by saying that I spend at least one hour every day reading about what's new in social media today (which happens to be the exact title of one of my favorite blogs), along with every other piece I have time for on PR Daily, Linkedin, and other sites.
My 11 year-old niece is teaching me more. Forget the kywords, the promoted posts, the hashtags: my 11 year- old niece has a YouTube video that got 10,000 views in its first month.
As a PR professionals we strive to create Youtube videos and other posts that go viral. We try our best using every piece of technology that's available, every tidbit of SEO information we come across and every helpful hint shared by techies, and lo and behold, two eleven year-olds do it by accident. That's the beauty of the Internet.
My neice and her BFF Liv created a show on Youtube called The Liv and Ambo Show. They put up a few homemade videos. These include an introductory video on the two of them being BFF's, a parody of a Lady Gaga Video that was a class project, a few "Top Ten" kind of videos made in their basement, and a few others that really are not of much interest to anyone but other 11year-olds.
Then came the Carly Rae Jepson/Wassabie Productions video parody. Yes, it helps that they made a parody of a parody of the hottest song of the summer of 2012, but still, they are a couple of 11 year-olds with no video, acting or music experience albeit being the stars of their 5th grade play in a small suburban town in NJ.
The first time I watched the video I did not "get it". Then I realized I had to watch the paraody first to understand the beauty of it. Of course, being a baby boomer I am not on Youtube searching for parodies of songs so it was an introduction to me of what kids out there today are doing. I often tell my nieces how lucky they are to have such a vehicle. When I was a kid we made stories on a cassette recorder. The fun part was the sound effects, that was the most creative we could get with the technology we had back then. I remember a Halloween tape I made with a bunch of friends in which we used broken swing set chains to mimic ghostly chains... but I digress.
So after watching the original parody, which was extremely clever, I looked at my niece's video through another lens and realized just how creative it was. One has to look past the poor lighting, vertical positioning, scenery and camera angles, but that's what makes it so sincere. They followed the original parody quite well, and by accident made their parody even funnier. I often tell them that the Cody Simpson poster on the door is a work of genius, but they don't get it. They were just having fun.
My niece jests with me that I watch her video every day. I tell her that I watch it not just because of her, but it is like a little PR/science experiment that I am curiously and excitedly tracking.
For the first few weeks the views went up by about a hundred a day, then for the next few it went up by 200 a day. When it reached a few thousand, they were excited to have received an email from Youtube congratulating them on their successful post. Yes, it was a "form" email but exciting nonetheless. I talked with them about making some money and putting some ads on it, but my 15 year old son, a self-proclaimed YouTube expert, knocked down that idea, saying that kids would turn it off as soon as they saw the ad.
On the weekends it grew even more. My son said that it would reach a point where it would skyrocket. In about the 5th or 6th week, the views jumped drastically, and toppled 10,000. Three months from the post they have now surpassed a whopping 100,000 views.
Why did this happen? I know that the girls tagged it with some keywords. Also, just because they liked it and not because they wanted it to have the greatest chances of going viral, chose a very popular song and a very popular parody. But that's it. No promotion whatsoever. They just provided creative content and it went viral. They knew their market, so to speak.
One of these days I will beg my niece for her password so I can scrutinize the Youtube analytics to see what lessons I can learn. But for now, I learned just one lesson. Next time they do a video, I'm putting a client in it!
I never get tired of going to premiers and shows. I have always loved the movies and entertainment, and being a part of it as a publicist still puts a smile on my face and gets me up in the morning.
I have been in pubic relations for over 25 years. Geez, that makes me sound old. Having a kid in college makes me sound old, and I have one of those too.
Many moons ago I toiled over wiring copy about things like elevator controls, foam, holiday decorations and ribbon. I still remember the products and the people that made them, all here in North Jersey. Did you know that the first artificial Christmas tree was invented right here in Bergen County?
Now I have entered the world of entertainment PR right here in Jersey, and rather than touring foam and ribbon factories, which actually was quite amazing, I go to premiers. I don't even know if we had premiers in NJ decades ago; probably Hudson County had its fair share. When I grew up California was the heart of the industry, the place of the rich and famous that all my young friends and i wanted to live in. That's where Marcia Brady and Keith Partridge lived. And now Jersey's on the map. What a wonderful world. Snookie, Theresa, it may not always be a favorable image that has been projected but it is a different image of NJ that the world sees now, if anything just a bit more glamorous. When I was out in Arizona just this past summer, a worker out there told me he wanted to go to NJ because we had "beautiful beaches". Yes, we do.
The most recent premier I went to was for a new movie called "Bad Parents", directed,written and produced by Caytha Jentis of Ridgewood. I got lost on my way to premier in Montlclair, as I took a right on Valley Road instead of doing that almost impossible jughandle loop to go south and ended up panicked in Paterson. Living in Bergen all of my life I figured that the theater was easy enough to find, a couple of turns off of Route 3. I even double-checked it on Mapquest and Google maps. Lesson learned, I am always using GPS now. I pride myself in knowing all of the roads around here, but frankly, there are more signs and exits and cars on the road than ever before and GPS is almost a necessity rather than a luxury.
My GPS and my husband by cell got me back on track, to the Clearview Cinema in Montaclair. I love little towns like this with historic town centers; Ridgewood, Westwood, Ramsey, Montclair. I love the old buildings and the city-like feeling in these surburban hubs. When I go to towns like this, I feel like I am in a movie from the 40's. It's like stepping into Bedford Falls for a few hours.
The premier was part of the Montclair Film festival. I have noticed that several towns in Northern Jersey have started Film Festivals. Most recently I attended the Ridgewood Film Festival. They seem to be n their infancy but are such wonderful experiences that I would hope that they grow tot the magnitute they deserve.
I was going to see "Bad Parents". Lauren Sudol is an actress signed by one of my clients, Martha Bryne and Mario Costabile's Full Circle Talent Group in Paramus. Lauren plays the daughter of Janeane Garofalo in the move, the movie's main "bad parent". Janeane is herself a Jersey Girl.
The vestibule of the theater was packed with people and paparazzi. I recognized most of the photographers. 201/Bergen was there; they always cover entertainment news in Bergen. The Record and Patch had covered the event. Steve Adubato was there doing interviews with the cast, crew and director. Lauren politely and properly answered all of his questions. There were parents milling about with many of the stars. In this case, many of the stars were little girls, the children who played the soccer players in the movie.
After an hour or so of the pre-movie mingling, we were beckoned into the theater by the soccer ref. The event was sold out but luckily I was given a ticket by Lauren's mother as she had an extra one. The movie is not P-G.
I was very excited to have gained entrance. I had seen the trailer of the movie and know it would be very Jersey-centric, or more so, something I would relate to. I think that's the allure of so many of the Jersey shows for Jersey people, watching the background and geography to figure out where the production was filmed. It's also interesting to see how the culture is portrayed and whether or not the accents (yes I admit there are Jersey accents), are correct! After that we may lose interest but the initial curiosity, I believe, gets most of us here in NJ to at least tune into something produced here.
Bad parents had me engrossed from start to finish. Being a mom with two kids in organized sports, it was like a replay of the past 10 years. I'm not saying that I have encountered parents exactly like all of those in the movie, but I have encountered parents with many similar traits. There were also some of the lines in the movie that I couldn't help chuckle about because I had heard them in my life. The following lines may not be the exact lines from the script but going from memory I seem to recall parents saying:
"You mean you're going to make cuts? How can you cut a little girl?"
"It's not so bad being on the "B" team, you can move up."
"My kid cried for an hour after she heard the news!"
And the final one, which really struck a nerve was:
"I'll give you $20 if you score a goal."
That last one was a killer. OMG. I remember the first time I found out that a parent was paying their kid to do well in a ballgame. Yes, it really happens.
And that was the takeaway I had from the movie. This stuff really happens. The greater question is whether or not organized sports are good for kids, and that is yet to be seen. In this computer-centered social age organized teams gets kids out of the house and onto a ballfield, but overall does it teach them skills to help them as they grow older? More importantly, are they having fun?
At the very young ages of rec ball, in our town anyway. they don't keep score. The saying is "if you had fun you won". I kind of like that, for certain ages anyway. I also like the idea of giving kids trophies "just because they showed up", which happened to be another line, or rather complaint by a parent in the movie. I believe that going to something on a regular basis and doing what you are supposed to do at a very young age is a life lesson.
When I was talking to Producer Dorothy Fucito, we discussed whether or not this kind of activity and parental competitions were unique to NJ and this part of the country, or if it was all over. She believed it is widespread, and said with the distribution of the film to other countries she would see by the reaction.
Kudos to Caytha Jentis of Fox Meadow Films and her team for making a movie that makes us laugh, and at the same time makes us think.