Recently I tried out Google AdWords to see if I could get more people to view my movies. I ran an advertisement for Line of Taxis http://www.dynamiclethargyfilms.ca/line_of_taxis.php for 30 days. Before I started, I signed up for Google Analytics to track how many people visited my site. It also gave me some interesting stats on who they were.
The ad ran from June 13 to July 12. During that time, the ad showed up 1,634,721 on web pages. Out of those, the ad was “clicked” 789 times. The cost to me was a little over $28 (Canadian). AdWords allows you to choose key words that help determine where you wanted your ad posted. The indication was that the key words I chose were ineffective.
Google Analytics reported that people visited the Line of Taxis page 762 times during the trial period. I thought that should be the same as the number of “clicks”. The average time spent on the page was a little over two minutes, which is shorter than the film. However, I think that is an underestimate of the length of time someone is on the site, since if the viewer closes the window rather than visiting another page, I can’t see how you can tell how long they were on the page.
Almost 1 in 10 people who visited the Line of Taxis page then went on to visit some of my other movie pages. The undonate page was also a popular choice. There were actually fewer visits to my blog during the advertizing period.
Overall, the average number of daily visits to my site were 566 per cent higher during the campaign that after the campaign.
My site was most popular in Vietnam and China with both accounting for over 10 per cent of visits each. Canada ranked third at 8 per cent, but I suspect that most of those were my visits to the site. Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Egypt, and Thailand each accounted for more than 5 per cent of visits. The United States ranked 21st with one per cent of visits.
Calgary ranked first in cities, although I think that was mostly my visits. Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Hanoi, and Cairo also ranked high. The second ranked Canadian Cities were Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Toronto, with one visit each.
I think what I learned from this experiment is that advertising is an effective way to get people to my site. I do need to improve my ads, since the one I used wasn’t very effective. Only one of every 2,000 people who saw the ad clicked on it. No one donated money or bought any of my films. That could be for any of a number of reasons. The web page may need changes, or I need to drop the prices of my movies. It could also be that nobody wants to buy them. All of my films, except for Who Shot the President http://www.dynamiclethargyfilms.ca/who_shot_the_president.php are free to view on-line, so that could undercut any sales.
I just found out today that the Accessible Channel bought My Next Film for broadcast in February 2010. I don’t when it will be shown, or if it has already been shown. If I learn any more I will pass it along.
The Accessible Channel
My Next Film
The other day I was reading Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, when I came to a passage that reminded me of the movie Last Year at Marienbad. I saw it years ago, or at least I think I did. Maybe it was someone else that saw it.
Through some convoluted path that led me to think about what a friend told me once about her divorce. This, in turn, got me thinking about the movie Memento. Of course, that naturally suggested the short story Flowers for Algernon. The author later rewrote Flowers for Algernon as a novel. I’ve read the short story, but not the novel.
At this point, the beginnings of a story began to form in my mind. Some time ago, someone suggested that I make a movie like Before Sunrise, so I threw that into the mix. Finally, I started to see parallels between my idea and The Third Man.
My working title for the story is A Memento of Flowers for the Third English Patient Before Sunrise in Marienbad. It needs some work.
Tomas Alva Edison, the inventor, once said that genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration. I have the one per cent inspiration, all I need is the ninety-nine per cent perspiration.
I wonder if I can get way with just forty-nine per cent perspiration, or would that leave the story half baked?
It is all too easy for writers to make their heroes do something stupid to move their story forward. If the writer cannot give the audience a good explanation why, they may not buy into the story. I thought of several ways to explain why the hero would do something stupid.
Read the whole article: http://www.bukisa.com/articles/319794_dont-let-your-heroes-be-stupid
I started to edit My Most Difficult Case. http://www.dynamiclethargyfilms.ca/my_most_difficult_case.php Several years ago, I decided to reedit the film before I tried to distribute it. Vildo Sturam did a new cut for me that was a big improvement over what I had done.
However, other parts of my life intruded and the project went on the back burner. Last month I got the video transfers of my negatives converted to computer files and this week I started to reedit those to conform to the edit Vildo did.
Progress has been good. I am about half way through the film, although I have left the transitions, music and some of the sound until later.
When I matched up the video from the negative transfer with the video from the final film, I was struck by how much more detail I can see in the negative transfer. These two images illustrate this quite well. I haven’t decided how far I will go to match the old look because I like the additional detail.
Another problem I need to consider is that I wasn’t able to get a release for the picture on the wall behind the judge. I asked Vildo to obscure it when he did the reedit. What I would like to do is replace it with another image. I know it can be done, but I’ve never done it myself.
This is a thought that first came to me years ago while I watched the O.J. Simpson “low speed chase” on TV.
I was at my cousin’s wedding. We all sat and watched the “chase” for hours that evening while we waited at the hotel for the wedding the next day. Other people have told me similar experiences of that event. As I watched, I thought that nobody would go to a movie and watch someone drive down the road for hours on end. Yet many people did exactly that.
I thought about this question again when I saw part of the movie Human Trafficking http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0461872/ . This was a fictional movie, but, as I watched, I was more frightened by it than any horror film I had ever seen. The movie is about criminals who transport women around the world for prostitution and the police who chase them.
I think the reason I was so frightened was, that, while the depiction was fictional, I knew that it showed what millions of real people experienced in their lives. I don’t think there are any real people who have been chased around by a mummy or bug-eyed monster.
I am not sure I have a real answer to my question. Reality will always be of more immediate interest to people than any entertainment can be. The question then is, what do people want from works of fiction? It must be something that they can’t get from reality.
After talking about myself a lot, I think its about time to point out some interesting things that other people are doing.
The Lure http://www.members.shaw.ca/moonpics/lure.html , a film by Neil Gordon and Kelly Eshpeter, has been selelcted for the “Los Angeles All-Sports film festival”. http://www.allsportslafilmfest.com/sched.htm
Both Neil and Kelly have been supportive of my film making. The Lure demonstrates that they are great film makers themselves.
Sad No More
Dr. Ted Jablonski will run, cycle and speak across Canada in 2010, raising awareness of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and inspiring action to overcome it. http://www.sadnomore.ca/
Dr. J., in addition to being my personal doctor, is a consummate musician. www.gogetm.ca
Earlier today, Joie Schmidt, http://makethemostofyourtime.blogspot.com/, posted a question on her FaceBook page about which movies people thought we the best. She asked why people liked them. After I posted a response to her, I decided that I wanted to share some of my thoughts on my blog. I’ve edited and expanded my comments below.
I think these are the best movies I’ve seen:
• 2001: A Space Odyssey,
• The Third Man,
• Fog of War,
• La Strada,
• The Draughtsman’s Contract,
• City Lights, and
• Blade Runner
2001: A Space Odyssey
I first saw 2001 when I was 15. I went to see it for the special effects, but after seeing it, I knew that I had missed something important. I went back to see it again, maybe 20 times, read the book 3 or 4 times, and even wrote a high school essay on it. I eventually decided that I understood it. Years later, I keep seeing more in it that I didn’t see earlier, so now I am not so sure that I really understand it. It changed my whole view of the world.
I first saw Koyaanisqatsi when my brother showed me a videotape he had rented. It wasn’t until many years later that I saw it in a theatre. I saw it three times on the big screen, once at a live performance of the score by Philip Glass. The movie seemed to me to be completely abstract, yet it held my fascination every time I watch it. It does have a “story” and a “message”, but I’m not sure you can really put them into words.
The Third Man and Casablanca
I find that both of these movies have somewhat sad endings, in that the protagonists don’t get what they really wanted. Even so, they survive and maybe grow as people. I just wrote a blog where I talked about my fascination with this kind of plot. http://dynamiclethargyfilms.ca/blog/?p=170
I’d heard of both of these movies many years before I watched either of them. I never saw either on the big screen. I find both movies affect strongly at an emotional level.
I noticed that Roger Ebert has an image from The Third Man on his Twitter page.
Fog of War
Fog of War is an extended interview with Robert S. McNamara, who was the US Secretary of Defence during the Vietnam War. Sometimes it could be a horror movie, and other times a philosophical discussion.
Federico Fellini’ La Strata is the only movie of his that I really like. I saw it first in a movie appreciation course. It is about a brute of a man and the woman that travels with him. The end is both sad and surprising. This is another movie that I never saw on the big screen.
The Draughtsman’s Contract
I wanted to see this after seeing the review on Siskel and Ebert, but I didn’t see it for many years after. The first time I saw it was in a theatre. The woman I took to see it did not like it, and she asked me to apologize to her for taking her. I’ve seen it several times since and it grew on me. It is a sort of mystery, but one that isn’t really solved. I think it is that uncertainty that draws me to the movie. The director has crammed this movie full of many little details. I am sure there is still much more to see in this movie than I have so far.
I saw this the first time in the mid 1970s when they rereleased several of Charlie Chaplin’s movies. It didn’t stick in my mind too much at the time, but years later I watched a documentary about Chaplin which showed out cuts from the movie. I think nearly an hour was devoted to City Lights. It was after that experience that the movie began to touch me emotionally. The last scene is devastating once you understand how the characters reached that point.
I didn’t appreciate this movie until I began to talk to other people about it. Blade Runner asks what does it mean to be human. The movie uses hints at the nature of the hero to ask this question. These hints have fuelled many a long discussion. It is something of an intellectual and philosophical puzzle to be solved.
Reflecting on these thoughts, I see that most of these movies appeal to my intellect. They ask questions that get me thinking.
“They” say that there are really only seven stories. Anyone can tell a story, but if you want to make a difference, you need to add something special that only you can give.
I have been working on several projects over the last year or so and I have started to think about what is special about my work. My big fear is that there isn’t anything special. My main objective now is to focus on gaining better mastery of the creative skills, but I know that eventually I do need to have something special.
Just the other day I saw a program about the writer Richard Matheson. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Matheson He said he didn’t realize what some of the key themes of his own work was until a long time after he began writing. I got the impression that it was only after others started to talk about what they found in his work that he began to see it too. I hope that is the case with me. I know that the things you care about show up in your work, even when you don’t consciously put it there.
I have noticed some things about my own work that I think may reflect something that distinguishes me from other film makers.
- I see in some of my work a conflict between respecting authority and rebelling against it. This is a conflict in much of my thinking. I believe that it is important to accept that we are all part of a greater whole, but I also want to be free from the constraints of being a part of a greater whole.
- In some of my work, I am consciously trying to send the message that things are not the way we expect them to be. The world is a complex of interacting systems, and systems often behave in ways that are not intuitive. What seems obvious is often misleading. This sounds somewhat “new-agey”, but it comes from my work as an engineer studying complex systems. There is a paradox recognized by transportation planners that sometimes adding a road can make traffic worse.
- Many of my ideas come from my feeling that sometimes merely surviving is victory. There is a cliché in “race” stories where the runner falls, then gets up and comes back to win. My inclination is to have him try to win and fail, but in his trying he becomes a survivor and ultimately more of a winner than if he had “won” the race.
- I often use the image of someone walking down a corridor, either toward or away from the camera. This kind of image is often given as an example of bad film making, because it doesn’t tell you anything important. In my case though, I feel that it is a symbol for something being inevitable. In a corridor, you can only go forward or retreat. I am attracted to the image of a train running along the tracks for the same reason.
- In many of my story ideas the protagonist is very passive, which runs contrary to what a protagonist should be. Maybe this reflects my own reluctance to admit it when the time has come to act when faced with a challenge. Often I delay until it is too late and the opportunity has passed. I will need to learn much more about story telling before I can make this work.
- My experience is that success comes from a long series of small victories, while failure comes from taking one big gamble. I want to make this a message in my work, but I am not sure how to do this and still have an interesting story to tell.
Many of the things I want to do “break the rules” of good story telling. Before you can break the rules, you need to know what they are and why they are rules. That is going to be the challenge for me.