Writing? Not a Problem. Speaking? Ummm….

I’m not what you might call an effortlessly eloquent speaker. My tendencies are to be a bit too casual, I indulge in a few too many verbal ticks and speak more quickly than I’d like, the result of nerves. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely comfortable in front of an audience and in a room full of executives and other stakeholders. It’s often a struggle for me to slow down and organize my thoughts, though, which can be problematic.

The best advice I ever got about public speaking came in high school from a teacher whose subject I honestly don’t remember right now. Following a presentation of some sort, I had given he spoke to me after class and told me to watch the tone of my voice. Specifically, he said my voice tended to get higher when speaking to a group than it was normally.

I’ve remembered that advice every time I’ve stood in front of a group. Deep breaths, control my nerves, slow down, keep my voice low and even. Don’t wig out.

At some point, my substantial ego takes over and I begin to think “Yes, this is fine. I deserve to be here and have their attention.” I slip into the same mindset that pushed me on stage to perform in plays and musicals in high school and college. It becomes a role I’m playing, something I’m much more comfortable with.

When it comes down to it, I’m a writer. I like the opportunity afforded by writing for me to consider my thoughts a bit more fully. Sometimes I may not know what I want to say until I’m three paragraphs in, but that’s better than hemming and hawing and stammering to the annoyance of everyone around me.

Again, put me in front of a group of people I need to convince of the rightness of my point of view and I’m golden. But extemporaneous speaking has never been my strong suit. Yet another skillset I’m constantly working on developing and improving.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Last Week on Cinematic Slant

Dayveon – Marketing Recap: Ultimately I felt this is just the kind of movie that needs an extra little nudge. It seems important and one that could create an important conversation.

Is Sony Arming Itself for Battle Against Rotten Tomatoes: I don’t know if this is Sony running these ad surveys or if it’s some other party, but it’s certain someone is gathering information.

American Assassin – Marketing Recap: If this succeeds it’s easy to see at least a few more of the Mitch Rapp stories making their way to the big-screen.

The Big Winner in the Streaming Wars Could Be Physical or Downloaded Media: At some point I have to believe there’s going to be a push back against all this insanity.

Brad’s Status – Marketing Recap: What the marketing does well is use Stiller’s nervous energy, which has aged pretty well, as one of the primary hooks.

Abrams Returns to Star Wars for Episode IX: The reason the date shift is more notable to me than the return of Abrams (though that’s substantial as well) is that it directly impacts the movie’s marketing.

mother! – Marketing Recap: The focus was on creating a sense of mystery and tension in the audience with tight spaces, fast cuts, building music, dramatic visuals and other tactics.

Darren Aronofsky – Director Overview: With his latest film, mother!, hitting theaters this week t’s a good opportunity to look back at the director’s previous six films and how they were sold.

Rebel in the Rye – Marketing Recap: Salinger has been such an enigmatic figure that there’s always been a hunger for more background on him and how he created “Catcher.”

When Paranoia Takes Over

Let me tell you, all the terrible assumptions identified as potentially impacting your career are not only true, but they’re often felt even more keenly by remote workers.

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I applied the worst possible option to the communication – or lack thereof – from someone I worked with across the country. They were upset with me, they were disappointed in something I’d worked on, they were looking to push me out the door and so on.

This is part of the reason I think companies with remote staff need to commit to working harder than others to make that situation work with everyone. That includes regular team and leadership check-ins, multiple communication platforms and more. Video calling on Skype or Zoom or other platforms are great for countering some of this since it allows everyone to read the other person’s body language better, even if it’s not as well as they could in-person.

Not doing so can lead to a lot of dissatisfaction and paranoia on the part of your employees, which can lead them to prematurely look for an exit your company may not be prepared for. Keep in mind how you can best tend to the emotional needs and considerations of your staff, particularly those who aren’t in your own building.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Last Week on Cinematic Slant

How Much is Marketing To Blame for Summer Box-Office Woes?: You can’t complain about a situation where movies are either massive hits or tremendous flops when that’s the situation you contributed to the establishment of.

Home Again – Marketing Recap: Everything here is geared around Witherspoon’s character and people’s relationship to and with her.

Celebrate Michael Keaton’s Birthday With These Five Underappreciated Roles: With so many well-known roles to his name, I’m going to highlight five of his movies I’ve enjoyed but which may not have the high profile of some of his other films.

It – Marketing Recap: I kind of like that New Line decided to go for broke and not worry about keeping Pennywise concealed until the last possible minute.

How Say Anything… Introduced Me To Steely Dan: If you were at a bar and “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” came on and you didn’t start singing it like Mahoney in the movie, you lost.

Goon: Last of the Enforcers – Marketing Recap: It’s just as darkly violent and satirical and Canadian as the first movie, just in different ways and this time with Baruchel helming it.

Amazon and Apple Bidding For Bond: Included among the companies bidding for distribution rights to the James Bond franchise? Apple and Amazon, according to a report in The Hollywood Reporter.

Rebecca – Flashback Marketing: …the movie remains a classic of the era, a standout in Hitchcock’s filmography and a go-to example of the gothic romance genre.

Daily Prompt – Finite


(NOTE: Based on today’s The Daily Post writing prompt)

As I grow older I become more aware of just what the word “finite” means. It’s not the opposite of infinite, that’s “zero.” No, “finite” means you’re limited. It means there’s a cap on a resource.

I’d like to say that when I was a younger man I thought the possibilities were infinite, but that’s not true. I always kind of thought my options were limited. Growing up as I did I thought I’d get a job behind a desk doing something that wasn’t all that important to anyone in particular but which paid well and provided both a paycheck and a pension for me and the family I would eventually have.

Mine is a generation that’s dealt with serious upheavals the job market. According to a 2016 report, 41% of Baby Boomers said they stayed with one company for 20 years or more and about two-thirds of those had a pension, something that was phased out as Boomers began retiring because they were expensive to offer and maintain. Now many people spend less than five years on average at one job and are likely to change jobs 10 to 15 times in their working years.

That means the job market is more competitive than it was for those in my parents’ generation. When people are always feeling the freedom to shift here and there, companies who are hiring have the luxury of looking around until they find just the right person because new people are always coming on the market.

As I said, I always kind of thought my possibilities were finite. That’s the result of being raised with stoic pragmatism as your guiding emotional principle. I just didn’t think this is how that would play out.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Two (More) Years of Movie Marketing

It’s been two years since I decided to relaunch regular posts about the world of movie marketing. Two years since I committed to doing this again after having taken almost three years off from doing so.

When I did so I was still employed full-time but thought my workload made maintaining marketing recaps as an ongoing feature feasible. That situation has obviously changed – I’m now freelancing full-time while also working a part-time retail job – but the overall workload hasn’t actually changed significantly. It’s just shifted to a different schedule, one that’s both more flexible and far less-so.

Part of the desire to restart what was then called Movie Marketing Madness but which has evolved into Cinematic Slant was that I felt there still wasn’t anyone providing any critical analysis of movie marketing. Just as in 2004 when I started this whole journey, lots of people (more than ever before) post and write about trailers and posters and other elements, but no one’s looking at it all with a marketer’s eye. That continues to be something unique I bring to the conversation.

Here’s to two another year and many more after that.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

A Scholarly Approach to Film Marketing

I was approached by Kim Louise Walden, Senior Lecturer: Film and Television Cultures and Critical and Contextual Studies Network Leader at the University of Hertfordshire’s School of Creative Arts a while ago for my thoughts on movie marketing. Her paper is now live and apparently includes my comments and mentions of Movie Marketing Madness. The full paper is behind a paywall but here’s the extract.

Film marketing materials such as trailers and posters are regarded as ephemeral, but as they have migrated online, they have become increasingly pervasive and intriguing forms, colonizing the spaces before, between and beyond the film itself. The distinctions between promotion and content have become blurred, and arguably, some marketing campaigns have become as entertaining as the films they promote, which raises questions about the cultural value of these ephemera. In setting out to investigate what film websites contribute to the narrative ecology of the film, the award-winning promotional website for Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 (2009) promised to be a good starting point. However, the research did not get off to an auspicious start because shortly after it began, the site disappeared. The article gives an account of a media archaeological excavation undertaken to search for D-9.com. A search led to encounters with a wide range of digital archives including the Internet Archive and its Wayback Machine, the Webby awards as well the ‘new’ generation of Web 2.0 archives such as blogs, YouTube and social media sites. In the light of this journey, the article will reflect on digital archives from what media theorist Wolfgang Ernst referred to as the ‘machine perspective’ and how the mechanisms of the digital archives condition the way we know things about the recent digital past. It will conclude by suggesting that these archival encounters in this project revealed as much about the nature of digital archives as online film marketing and promotion.

Source: Intellect Ltd.

I’m Cool Being The Bass Player

For whatever reason I’ve been listening to a bunch of Fleetwood Mac recently. It started when I got the song “Temporary One” that the band played during their 1997 reunion shows stuck in my head the other day. That lead to a YouTube search for the video of that performance, which lead to other YouTube videos which lead to a Spotfiy binge, which lead to a deep-dive into the solo works of Stevie Nicks, a catalog I wasn’t super-familiar with.

As I was watching the video of the band playing “Go Your Own Way” (which I think opened The Dance), I saw Nicks and Lyndsey Buckingham playing the flashy, emotional front of the band. I saw Christine McVie playing the watchful parent of her emotional kids. I saw Mick Fleetwood, wide-eyed behind his kit doing what he could to add theatrics to some of the most solid drum parts in rock.

All that was going on while bassist John McVie did his best to blend into the furniture, even while providing some of the most musical and integral rhythm support rock and roll has ever known. He stays there, just feet from his partner Fleetwood, laying down the foundation on which Buckingham’s virtuosic guitar parts are able to soar, Nicks’ vocals are able to contrast and McVie’s piano parts are able to glide.

McVie isn’t the showiest guy in the band. He’s even less showy than other rock bass players, who often do what they can to make themselves both seen and heard. In fact, he seems to eschew the spotlight and just wants to play the music, letting that speak for him while everyone else on stage draws the audience’s attention.

While I only ever played the drums (and not all that well) in my life, I was always drawn to bass parts, perhaps by virtue of singing that part in the various school choirs I was in over the years. The combination of those two things has me particularly attuned to the rhythm section in music.

It’s also likely a symptom of my general state of mind, which is happy to let someone else be the flashy frontman while I’m happy back here doing the work and laying the foundation. That mindset is also probably why I was so good at managing core content programs, doing the everyday work that may not get tons of attention but which is essential to building a good content marketing program. I’ll defer to the experts when it comes to premium content executions and other campaigns, but it’s my core program that is providing the audience for those campaigns.

Of course, that tendency to just want to be in the background has also likely impeded my career at various times as I haven’t taken credit for one thing or another, preferring to feel that the client’s success was mine, even if that wasn’t publicly acknowledged.

That’s fine, though. I’m fine following the John McVie example of being an essential part of the equation that does his work and does it better than most other people in his field. I’d just uncomfortable in the spotlight anyway.

Last Week on Cinematic Slant

It’s Back to the Askewniverse for Kevin Smith: While I certainly will look forward to another Jay and Silent Bob movie, I also wish Smith could find something new to say.

Super Troopers 2 Teaser Trailer: It’s exactly what was likely needed for this first effort, showing fans that while time has passed, things haven’t changed all that much.

Tulip Fever – Marketing Recap: I’m not even sure what kind of scale to put this campaign on, what to measure it against. It’s been a year-and-a-half since the first trailer was released, with the second coming almost exactly a year later.

Celebrate Elliott Gould’s Birthday With These Four Essential Roles: Elliott Gould turned 79, providing as good a reason as any to revisit some of my favorite screen roles of his.

I Do…Until I Don’t – Marketing Recap: The movie looks pretty funny, though certainly as if it’s going to spark some uncomfortable conversations among couples who watch it together.

Little Evil – Marketing Recap: The campaign, represented mostly by that trailer, is pretty alright. Unfortunately, most of the movie’s marketing will likely come down to it being listed as one of the films Netflix recommends to viewers.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Revival Marketing): Sony Pictures is celebrating the 40th anniversary of a modern science-fiction classic as it rereleases Close Encounters of the Third Kind to theaters this weekend.

What I’ve Been Working On: TrustedNation

For the last several months I’ve been working on the marketing for a new startup website based here in Chicago. We’ve been keeping the site largely under wraps in the ramp-up period and through the soft-launch phase we invited select friends and acquaintances into. Now that we’ve worked many of the bugs out we’re ready to take the tarp off and publicly launch the site.

I present you with TrustedNation.com.

The notion behind TrustedNation is this: What’s missing from the expanding world of online reviews, peer-to-peer marketplaces and other sites is trust. There’s no way to know whether the review of that restaurant is accurate because you don’t know the person who left it. You might feel nervous about driving to check out a couch someone is selling because you’re unsure who that person is and there have been too many horror stories about transactions gone bad.

In order to join TrustedNation you must be endorsed by a current member. So everyone myself and the others involved in launch invited were people we knew and trusted. Once they accepted the invitation I was asked if I wanted to endorse them, which I did. Only then did they have access to the site.

So what can you do on TrustedNation? There are a two basic categories most site actions fall into:

  • Buying/Selling: If you have something you’re selling, you can post details, including price, how long it’s available for and more. If you’re looking to buy something you can search the site for related items and then contact the seller to facilitate the transaction.
  • Offering Comments/Recommendations: If you’ve had a really good experience with a local handyman, if there’s a babysitter you trust and want to turn friends onto, if you’ve really been enjoying a nearby bar, you can share all that and more. Of course if you want to warn others away from something or offer a warning of some sort you can do that to.

For your convenience, you can narrow search results by location, price range and other details to find exactly what you’re looking for.

The difference here is that you can trust all the above because you can see those posts are coming from and how you’re connected to that person. Each post displays the network details, showing you know X, who knows Y, who knows me. There’s no more uncertainty about the motivations the person selling that guitar because he’s been endorsed by and vouched for by 15 people and is therefore trustworthy.

It’s pretty exciting to finally take the wraps off this. While I’ve certainly been involved in projects I’ve had to keep under my hat in the past, this is my first experience with a startup launch and it’s been challenging, informative and interesting.

If you’d like to find out more about TrustedNation, hit me up in the comments below. If you’re someone I know and trust, I’m happy to invite you to join or just offer more details about what myself and the rest of the team have been building.