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Help for Doc Filmmakers: Doc NYC, Grey New York & Morgan Spurlock Debut "Launch PAD"

By Brian Brooks | Indiewire October 31, 2011 at 3:04AM

Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, DOC NYC and Grey New York unveiled a new program Monday called "Launch PAD," described as a "first-of-its-kind initiative that will match brands with new documentary films sourced by the festival."
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Help for Doc Filmmakers: Doc NYC, Grey New York & Morgan Spurlock Debut "Launch PAD"
Morgan Spurlock in "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold." [Sony Pictures Classics]

Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, DOC NYC and Grey New York unveiled a new program Monday called "Launch PAD," described as a "first-of-its-kind initiative that will match brands with new documentary films sourced by the festival."

The aim of Launch PAD is to give filmmakers access to expertise and financial support in the mechanics of filmmaking, including prints, advertising and distribution. Additionally, the initiative will help nonfiction productions to develop "strategic brand partnerships for individual documentaries."

More details about Launch PAD will be discussed at a panel dubbed, "Branded Content" as part of DOC NYC on Wednesday, November 2 at IFC Center in New York's Greenwhich Village. This discussion will delve into ways for "brands and filmmakers to work more closely together, includes Grey's Alliance CEO Claudia Strauss, and Planning Director Deb Freeman, Jeremy Chilnick (producer of The Greatest Movie Ever Sold), Jet Blue's Fiona Morrison, Supply and Demand's Dana Locatell and Artistic Director for DOC NYC, Thom Powers."

DOC NYC takes place November 2 - 10.

Full release follows:

The DOC NYC festival (Nov. 2-10) and Grey New York, in association with Morgan Spurlock, announced today the creation of "Launch PAD," a first-of-its-kind initiative that will match brands with new documentary films sourced by the festival. "Launch PAD" will provide filmmakers with much-needed expertise and financial support in the areas of prints, advertising, and distribution (the "PAD" of the program's title) by developing strategic brand partnerships for individual documentaries.

Initial details about Launch PAD will be announced as part of DOC NYC's "Branded Content" panel on Wednesday, November 2 at 4:15pm at IFC Center. The panel, which will explore ways for brands and filmmakers to work more closely together, includes Grey's Alliance CEO Claudia Strauss, and Planning Director Deb Freeman, Jeremy Chilnick (producer of The Greatest Movie Ever Sold), Jet Blue's Fiona Morrison, Supply and Demand's Dana Locatell and Artistic Director for DOC NYC, Thom Powers.

Powers created the Launch PAD program with filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who recently utilized the marketing support of 22 different companies to promote his 2011 film, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.

"We see tremendous potential for doc makers to leverage both the marketing resources and advertising expertise of these brands to gain more exposure. Too many times we've seen great films create really strong festival buzz, but not have the means or the know-how to translate that into a meaningful release. Matching up filmmakers with people who are experts at getting their stories out into the marketplace will give a big boost to these documentaries' profiles," said Powers. "The potential return for brands is just as great. Docs foster a different kind of audience connection than other entertainment-they inspire extra devotion. Audiences who've seen these films become advocates for them and typically want to stay engaged through social media and live events, sharing the film with friends. We think this is something brands can take real advantage of."

Launch PAD will focus on identifying brand partners for a shortlist of films to be selected by Powers, Spurlock and Grey. Grey will work with its portfolio of companies and outside brands as appropriate to create meaningful marketing programs to support both the brand and the film. Launch PAD has already tapped three finished documentaries and a fourth work-in-progress for the shortlist in its pilot program, including films both with and without distribution already in place:

· FIRST POSITION (Bess Kargman) - the saga of ballet students from around the world who come to New York to compete for scholarships. A Sundance Selects release.

· KNUCKLEBALL (Ricki Stern, Annie Sundberg) - (work-in-progress) from the makers of Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, this film follows two Major League Baseball pitchers known for their knuckleball-the most mysterious pitch of the game-through the 2011 season.

· LEMON (Laura Brownson, Beth Levison) - presented by Russell Simmons, the film follows Def Jam Poetry star Lemon Andersen as he attempts to mount a one-man show in New York.

· UNDEFEATED (Dan Lindsay, T.J. Martin) - like a real-life Friday Night Lights, this is the story of a high school football team in Memphis and their inspiring coach. A Weinstein Company release.

Launch PAD will tap another five candidates in upcoming months, with an eye to creating collaborative partnerships with at least three films in its first year, with more planned for subsequent years.

The initiative will be spearheaded by Grey's Alliance unit and its CEO, Claudia Strauss. Said Strauss: "At Grey we play at the intersection of culture and commerce, developing programs that excite our clients and provide them with authentic and long-lasting ways to engage audiences. The opportunity to help documentary filmmakers build brand partnerships was something we jumped at, since it aligns perfectly with our own agency and client goals."

Morgan Spurlock introduced DOC NYC to Grey to develop the Launch PAD program. "DOC NYC is a festival that's dedicated to bringing documentaries to new audiences and fostering the kind of connections that can happen 'only in New York'," said Spurlock. "This is a unique opportunity for both brands and filmmakers to benefit from the other's expertise."

About DOC NYC: DOC NYC is an annual nine-day festival celebrating documentary filmmaking and nonfiction storytelling. Launched in 2010, The festival was conceived and is hosted by the IFC Center, itself one of the country's most important presenters of documentaries, both for theatrical premieres and through the weekly "Stranger Than Fiction" series, launched in 2005 and now New York's leading documentary showcase. Festival screenings and events also take place at various venues at New York University. (www.DOCNYC.net)

About Grey: Grey New York is the flagship and largest office of Grey, the advertising network of Grey Group. Grey Group ranks among the largest global communications companies. Its parent company is WPP (NASDAQ: WPPGY). Grey Famously Effective Since 1917 serves a blue-chip client roster of many of the world's best known companies: Procter & Gamble, GlaxoSmithKline, Diageo, Darden Restaurants, Pfizer, Canon, 3M, Eli Lilly, ETrade, NFL, Boehringer Ingelheim and T.J. Maxx. FAST COMPANY named Grey to "The World's 50 Most Innovative Companies" list in 2010. (www.grey.com)

This article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit





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