Monday, July 14, 2008

It Ain't Over Until It's Over...

... Yogi Berra supposedly said that about the importance of playing hard through all nine innings of a baseball game because you don't know how it will turn out until the game is complete.

It ain't over until it's over, just sounds better to my ears.

The same is true for film work or anything in the arts: the creation of the project is not enough, you have to see it through until the end. For young filmmakers it means packaging, presentation, pitching the finished film, then more screenings and more presentations. One of the hardest things to do for young artists is to sell their own work-their artists not salespeople- but it is also the most important.

You can't just finish the film and show it to your friends and family and assume your work is done. That's amateur hour, and if you can't get out there and sell yourself- or at least give it your best shot- then get out of the business. I think Patti Smith said, "If only 14 people see it, is it art?" OK, maybe it wasn't Patti Smith, but I like her and will attribute it to her. But the point is well taken.

Vincent Van Gogh didn't sell one painting while he was alive. It didn't make him any less of an artist, but it made him depressed and crazy and one ear short of the full compliment, and ultimately it killed him. Van Gogh couldn't sell himself- and he drove his brother and dealer Theo nuts by his lack of self-promotion.

A few years ago I made a pilot of a TV show called Rainbow Soup. It was a show about art and world culture for kids (tweens) and their parents. We tried to create thirty minutes that would be interesting to both parents and kids- so Peter Gabriel sings and Studs Terkel reads a kids' version of Icarus and Daedalus and the film director Stephen Frears is the voice of an animated character.

When the pilot was finished I felt my work was about half done. We then set out promoting and selling the show. We created an elaborate mailer- including a painted soup bowl, a game and a package of instant "Rainbow Soup." All of this came in a package about the size of a cereal box. It was fun, but it also included all the important facts and figures about the series. It took maybe six months to put it all together, but it got people's attention and I am as proud of the salesmanship of Rainbow Soup as I am about the content.

The show never got picked up for TV, but it has lived a nice life on the internet and in schools in the United States and Canada. I even keep a letter from HBO Family, which after careful consideration rejected the show, but praised our marketing campaign. It's the best rejection letter I have ever received.

So just remember what Yogi said- it ain't over 'til it's over. You can see a clip of Rainbow Soup at


1 comment:

denise said...

well, knowing how great rainbow soup is, it's great to know how you marketed it! the boy watches it often, and we are always left wanting more...