How Would You Tell Your Story - Part I - History

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Telling Your Story In The Modern Digital Environment - Series

It was never as easy as today to tell your story or the story of your brand!

But ...!!!

You have to change your mind and switch from how it was done in 2010 to how it is done now ... and how it will be done in a year!!

This blog series is for brands, artists, and individuals who want to get attraction from a worldwide audience!

What I am doing is called GROWTH HACKING, so read on if you are interested in getting some unconventional insights.

Setting up the basis

When I edited the documentary THE BLACK ROOTS OF SALSA in 2008/09/10 I did it in an unconventional way and I am just going an even more progressive way these days with the production of all the collected material I have produced since 2004 about the Cuban culture.

You might laugh at me ... What will this guy generate with the Cuban culture!
Nobody will pay for that niche market!

Well, I launched my full feature documentary for sales online, having nearly a million views on the documentary trailer on Facebook and when launching the campaign I had a thousand website visitors a day over a week from 0 caused by a Facebook ad spend of 200$ total.

When I registered 90% of the visitors coming from mobile devices (mid-2016), while the documentary was not downloadable on these devices I stopped the campaign but I can tell you now, it generated some revenue and I started selling at 35$.

Then I had no idea about the current possibilities as I was absorbed by finishing the side production and other projects, while many possibilities opened up. 

I am starting now and will update this on future progress.

Establishing a documentary - Director's insight

The traditional way to produce and distribute a documentary

Nobody beats Hollywood! How would you get into the position to produce film about your field of passion?

Normally documentary filmmakers plan their project, write it down, fund it through cultural film funding or angel investors, find a distribution, then take their film crew to shoot the project, edit it and hand it over to the distribution, right!?

To do this, first of all, you need a name in the film business and a track record.

I did have none of them in 2004 ...


The way I wanted to document was always in a form to present the real life, the power, and energy of what I had found in the culture of Cuba!

So I took my camera and started to film and document the real life.

Then there was nobody documenting what happened in the real Cuban culture, practiced in the streets because the state would not let foreign film crews act independently.

Through my friend and great artist Adonis Panter Calderón, who was then 20 years old I gained access to a variety of great artists, resulting in special recordings in theatres and many interviews.

I made artists sit in front of the camera and talk about their culture without any script, when they had no training as actors or speaking in front of a camera.

I did not know what I will get, so I shot a broad collection of material over 5 years and countless stays in Cuba while digging deeper, researching and discussing the story with Adonis.

The funding

I tried to get funding in 2005 from Swiss organizations and Swiss culture funding but I had no chance due to a missing track record and because the project was not defined detailed enough, so I kept working to crossfinance my passion.

The edition process

I was not trained in film edition and storytelling and there was no script.

What I wanted to present was a detailed view of the main elements of the current evolution of the Cuban culture through some of the most important protagonists. I also wanted to provide some education, as there was no documentation for learning the different expressions involved until then.

Then, Salsa was dominated by Puerto Rico/NY style and the rich Afro-Cuban culture had not found its way back into the mainstream jet. 
As a dancer, I was bored by the shows, presented in these styles, as there was nothing new and it was all the same, while I have seen so many elements being included to enrich music and show dancing.

I worked on different levels to show primarily the beauty of the culture but also to provide a background of the Cuban environment through personal, historical, artistic and global balance.

When starting to develop the story I took the main elements of the culture and selected the most relevant parts of shows and interviews, cutting them down, developing the story.
This was a process of reduction from 4 hours of material to 2 hours, where I wanted to generate a balance between live performances and interview, providing a context for understanding the complex Cuban culture.

The live performances have been shot to see the entire body of the dancers in connection with the musicians.
Most filmmakers are cutting fast, showing details to impress. 
This style does not suit my interest, as I am interested to see the entire setup, as I would in a live performance.

When watching Keynote speakers nowadays on Youtube for an hour or even more I am attracted by their acting without any jumpcuts in the edition, so I think I chose a very modern way to shoot.

In the edition process, I missed some bridges and background information for viewers, not familiar with the culture, so I introduced a speaker to close the gap.
At the beginning of the film, I elaborated an introduction and then started to introduce the main protagonists and the percussion elements to build the environment where the current Salsa in Cuba is living.

The distribution

In 2007 I had produced a first documentary about the social kids' project LA RUMBA NO VA A MORIR and sold more or less 150 DVDs at events.

Then in 2008, I started to upload some first content to Youtube.

When I had finished a first version of THE BLACK ROOTS OF SALSA in 2010 I still did not find a distributor to sell the film as it was very unconventional then. The film was 2 hours and 10 minutes long and I had not found a graphic designer then to get professional artwork and some beautiful animations.

I managed to finally present the documentary at a festival in Poland and having an audience of 500 people, watching the film for 2 hours and 10 minutes was an incredible experience. 

After this, I had to put my passion away for some time and get back into IT to figure out, how to make a living.
I had no nice Website then.
It took me some time again to elaborate the final steps to program the Website of the company and finish the documentary to what it is now.

When I launched the Website in mid-2016, one month before, Amazon had launched its Video Direct service ... Part of the modern environment ...

The documentary THE BLACK ROOTS OF SALSA can be downloaded through our Website and watched on Amazon by now.

I am proud of the documentation as it is now and I am grateful for the great acceptance in the community!
In the meantime, the Youtube channel generated nearly 5 million views and I got access to 20'000 Fans through Facebook. 

The environment is set up, a product is elaborated and I can progress into new fields and start GROWTH HACKING!

Maybe you have seen me starting to implement the new strategies, beginning in 2018 and the first signs of progress are visible ...

What will be next ...

The modern way to tell a story

How to generate attention


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