Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Distribution-to-Date (aka the Résumé)

Here's the current "résumé" for PolyCultures - so if you're thinking of licensing or buying a copy, you can get a sense of how it fits in with the projects you've got going on... or may want to start.

For example, you might consider setting up a community screening, with a borrowed digital projector and a portable screen. Or you might encourage your public library to purchase a copy of the DVD for circulation in your community.

There are all kinds of possibilities, and with our increasing body of knowledge on how the movie is being used, we can help you tailor our product to the people you wish to educate and entertain.

Please shoot us an email if we can help in any way.

Hometown Debut
PolyCultures: Food Where We Live officially premiered at the 33rd Annual Cleveland International Film Festival in March, where the number of screenings was doubled to accommodate audience demand - an estimated 1000 saw it there. The debut was widely covered by the local press, highlighted by favorable reviews in Cleveland's daily newspaper, The Plain Dealer, and its alternative newsweekly, Cleveland Scene.

Regional & National Appeal
Beyond Cleveland we, the filmmakers, believe PolyCultures will have greatest impact in the Great Lakes Region due to similar economic conditions many cities in these areas face. As well, areas throughout this region have a similar growing season, which of course has a big impact on people's relationship with locally-produced food. To that end, we have screenings scheduled at an independent theater in Columbus, Ohio and an amphitheater in Warren, OH.

We intend to line up several more large screenings of this nature, regionally and beyond. Like media-darling Food Inc., this documentary has a lot to say about our national food system - but it goes beyond that by highlighting everyday individuals whose inspirational work is similar to that being done by local heroes in many, many locations.

Web 2.0 Distribution
LESS wants to make the movie available to as wide an audience as possible - equally important is enabling people's experience with it to be highly interactive. We created and routinely update the Official PolyCultures Blog, which - in addition to frequent posts where we solicit viewer feedback - has links to practically everything that's been written about the movie so far, so potential viewers can access unbiased opinions about whether the movie is worth their valuable time. On the blog we've embedded YouTube videos, including the movie's two trailers and two clips directly from it, as well as a promotional video we put together on-the-fly for our DVD release party at the Greenhouse Tavern in June.

We have interactive groups anyone can join on Facebook and, and we frequently post updates about the movie on Twitter. We've garnered coverage in dozens of blogs (for example, this fresh post on Food & Design). And we're using a versioning system that's adapted from software development (the present release is v1.01), which we intend to employ as we make updated and spin-off versions of the project available. Like the movement that it profiles, PolyCultures continues to grow and evolve.

Community Engagement
The filmmakers have been very engaged with the local community thus far and intend to continue interacting with viewers as the movie is distributed nationally. We were featured in the "Local Heroes" series at the Cleveland Film Fest and made personal introductions with Q & A sessions following each of the four presentations. The highlight of these sessions was a panel discussion moderated by the host of a local PBS show, who had interviewed us earlier that month on Applause. Also, the director and writer each appeared at the Picture Start filmmaking panels at Cleveland State University in conjunction with the film fest.

Plots from the movie have been shown at the 2009 Leadership Summit, Oberlin College, the Lakewood Public Library, and the City Fresh Monday monthly get-together - all of which have been great opportunities to share our educational mission with the broader community.

Support from Environmentally-Responsible Organizations
In addition to caring strongly about social progress, the filmmakers are dedicated to using the movie to encourage people to reduce their impact on the environment in a variety of creative ways. This message has been acknowledged by the documentary's inclusion in the "It's Easy Being Green" series at the Cleveland Film Fest. There we were sponsored by such environmentally-friendly companies as: Whole Foods Market, Great Lakes Brewing Company, and Snowville Creamery.

Entrepreneurs For Sustainability (E4S) held a local food event with more than 300 attendees in February, which featured excerpts from PolyCultures about businesses who are actively favoring sustainably-raised ingredients.

LESS also teamed up with the Greenhouse Tavern, which recently became the first operation in Ohio to be certified by the Green Restaurant Association, to throw a party on the 40th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River burning. This unique event symbolized how far our city and the U.S. have come due to the improved regulation that infamous day inspired.

LESS Productions itself operates in a re-purposed warehouse loft with elements of passive solar heating. We practice resource conservation, composting and indoor gardening, recycling, and - of course - sustainable sourcing of ingredients for our employees' meals.

Tasty Alliances
The filmmakers believe that social and environmental change can taste great too. At our DVD release party, Chef Jonathon Sawyer, (who previously cooked for Iron Chef and local hero Michael Symon) concocted delicious hors d'œuvres that featured locally-produced ingredients.

The movie's writer and director participated in a Whole Foods Market cooking demo, where they contributed original recipes (kohlrabi-bok choi stirfry and bacon-beet-grapefruit-granola ice cream) that related to clips from the movie and showed the audience how to prepare them at home.

Chef Doug Katz's Fire Food & Drink sponsored the movie at the Cleveland Film Fest, as well as the Great Lakes Brewing Company, which is turning out exceptional fare at their brewpub - both restaurants prominently feature Ohio-produced ingredients.

Public Use of PolyCultures
In addition to the screenings already mentioned, LESS is in discussions with dozens of other organizations about how they'd like to use PolyCultures to further their educational missions. These organizations are of many stripes, including: non-profits, public libraries, universities and colleges, high schools, businesses, and conferences.

We're applying to dozens of film festivals, specifically targeting those that feature environmental and socially-progressive documentaries, in order to better spread the seeds of PolyCultures. We're considering online distribution of one or more of the seven plots, as well as perhaps local or national broadcast of an hour-long cut.

In Conclusion
Overall, we've explored numerous ways of engaging our potential audience, mainly in Cleveland thus far and to some extent in the broader region. Our intention is now to take a similar approach throughout the nation - but we can only do so through collaboration with like-minded individuals and organizations in each location. We hope the interactive spirit of this project inspires you to join us in this effort!

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