There Are No Restrictions on this Q&A with John Paul Rice! – Part 3
Filmmakers Notebook has really enjoyed this 3 Part Q&A with independent filmmaker John Paul Rice, who is President of No Restrictions Entertainment. This week Rice released the trailer to the dramatic thriller, Mother’s Red Dress, which is now in post-production, and he has been very generous in sharing his ideas about making this film as well as his earlier ones with us. So, just like when reading a great play, I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading the final part to this Q&A.
You are very present on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and that has helped you in promoting your films. Are there any steps that you’ve taken which have worked best?
As screenwriter and filmmaker Kim Garland stated succinctly, “Be a person first, a promoter second.”
To me, social media is an intimate and rewarding platform. What works best is when you take a sincere approach in not only sharing your ideas and interests but also engaging in the sharing of another person. Having honest, substantive and constructive conversations rooted in your interests is the foundation of community building – it’s what connects us to one another and enriches our lives.
For promoting our work, I’ll tweet here and there but usually I go directly to individuals with a personal message that contains content/information I think they might find of interest or benefit. In turn, I encourage them to send anything they want my way and I’ll check it out, give feedback, spread the word, etc.
What advice would you give others who are attempting to do the same thing?
If you are launching a fan page or twitter account for the first time, start with your friends, cast and crew, family members and get them involved. Have them suggest the page to their friends and family – there is a direct incentive to do so – it’s their work to be proud of too.
Email is very important for messaging to fans. Create a diversity of lists for different announcements or calls to action. For each film I create a list for (1) cast and crew, (2) family and friends, (3) supporters of the film (usually all the people who will be getting a “thank you” in the credits, etc.), (4) press, (5) colleagues and so on.
I think one of the major pitfalls to avoid is only relying on social media sites for audience building. Many great things can happen behind the scenes too.
Don’t be afraid to fail. Where I started in my approach and how I conduct myself today are in total contrast with one another. I’ve made mistakes and I will continue to make mistakes. Strategies I thought would work didn’t but that doesn’t mean you give up and stop trying. Find what works for you and your audience. Observe others and their tactics but most important, whatever you choose to do, make it fun for yourself – your enjoyment of this process will be felt by your audience.
You have been very successful building a name for yourself as an indie filmmaker, so that people are not only aware of your films, but of you as a filmmaker. How did you brand yourself and your production company as well as your movies?
The brand of No Restrictions Entertainment and our films started with an expression of feelings through our work – reflecting the values, personal experiences, points of view and interests that writer/director Edgar Michael Bravo and I share.
The social issue aspect of our films comes from our personal experiences, people we’ve known or stories we relate to. Telling a story is like a voice that speaks to people who in turn relate through their own feelings and experiences. They are the ones who make the brand meaningful.
Co-branding with charities and non-profit organizations furthered the social issue aspect of our brand. We felt getting involved with causes was the right move – primarily inspired by the audience’s reactions. For One Hour Fantasy Girl, a large majority of the audience is women who sympathize with a guarded yet vulnerable young woman who is trying to navigate through a dark and dangerous world to achieve her goal of financial independence.
Last year we partnered with a local women’s shelter – The Downtown Women’s Center – in Los Angeles a non-profit organization that works to end homelessness for women living on Skid Row. While our film did not directly address homelessness, it did address the struggles of women who live in the shadows of society, often abused and taken advantage of, yet learn to survive and carry on.
Something I’d like to add – probably the most rewarding aspect of branding or filmmaking comes from the pleasure of seeing others enjoy the experience of your work. Without that, I think everything would feel external, strategic and calculated rather than organic and whole. I am genuinely moved to have created a piece of art that makes an impact on people’s lives.
You’ve been able to receive a healthy amount of publicity and coverage including reviews and articles written about your films and I’m sure you’ve tried a number of tactics to accomplish this over the past few years, so are there any approaches you’ve found work best when contacting media outlets?
Primarily I do this through research. I look everywhere to find contact info for film critics and bloggers. If I am not familiar with their work, I read a number of their reviews to gather a sense what types of films they enjoy along with their professionalism in how they critique a film. I’ve found that the majority of the critics whose work and critiques I admire are the best place to start. If you can’t find their email, see if they’re on Facebook and shoot them an email.
What’s next for John Paul Rice and No Restrictions Entertainment?
Edgar and I are currently writing two micro-budget scripts for 2012. At the same time, we are taking our work out to producers/production companies for three scripts that have larger budgets. Our goal is to make one film a year for the next four years.
If you aren’t following John yet on Twitter you can find him @NoRestrictions.