Will Lee joins us from Sydney, taking time away from his busy schedule as an actor and producer to talk to us via Skype.
For more information about Will Lee and his work visit his website.
Will’s active presence on social media inspired me to interview him and discuss how social media has effected his work, particularly the up and coming new Australian drama, The Legend of Ben Hall (in cinemas December 1st, 2016).
The website for this film is an example of stellar marketing communications, rich in interactive and educational content, it touches me in all the right ways.
This interview was originally meant to be presented as a wonderful multimedia presentation via Skype, unfortunately the software I downloaded was a total dud (I need to make sure I unsubscribe before that 14 day free trial runs out!).
Never fear, after trialling the software the night before and realising there maybe issues, I recorded the audio on my phone so I would have the opportunity to transcribe if things went awry.
Can you tell us about yourself and how you came to be involved in The Legend of Ben Hall?
Will: To start with, I got tagged on a Facebook post. It was basically an ad looking for a horse rider to be in this short film. Because I was a horse rider I thought, perfect, I can get on a horse and be in a film at the same time!
So I went in to have a meeting with Matthew (Holmes, the director) and he tells me about this minor role, which was John Dunn.
So, originally I was one of the three gang members but I had one line. That was fine with me because I got to be in a film and ride a horse!
I loved the character and I did all this extra research and found information that no one else had found. We’re all looking for opportunities and I fought for it. Because it was a short film, I had the confidence to fight for the role because I felt that he was such a key character in the events. Little did I know the film would be turned into a feature, and John Dunn became one of the main characters.
“We’re all looking for opportunities and I fought for it”
If I was going for a feature audition, I probably wouldn’t have been so confident. But I was like, it’s a short film! Easy! One line, I’ve got this.
Tell us about the role social media has played through out the production of the film, from short film to feature?
Will: They started the fundraiser campaign using social media and raised over a $100,000. Which is insane! That allowed them to go from a 10 minute short film to a 40-50 minute telemovie.
So we filmed that and in our first round of filming, we only got to about half an hours worth of footage. So we had to decide whether to continue as a telemovie or rebrand and turn it into a feature. They tried the crowdfunding again and unfortunately it wasn’t as successful as the last one. But it was enough to get interest back in there. And that time around, we ended up getting investors involved which was what we really needed and thats what made it.
“We’re going to show you the struggles, we’re going to show you the triumphs”
We wouldn’t have gotten investors without Matthew’s Facebook posts. He basically opened up the whole filming process to the public. He said, “here you go, we’re going to give you all the information of this production! We’re going to give you inside access to behind the scenes. We’re going to show you the struggles, we’re going to show you the triumphs. We’re going to show you our actors.”
He basically opened up the whole panel to the public. He really got the community involved and that’s how the interest lasted.
They definitely have provided a very open access for pretty much everyone to have a look at the process, which makes people personally invested in the production.
Will: It’s not easy to keep people’s interest for two years. We went through a lull and I think the key to avoiding any problems for the two years was to stay truthful.
For example, with the film, making sure when things were posted they were genuine updates about the film and not trying to create interesting things to show people. The last thing you want to do is start to allude to something that’s not there.
I think what Matthew did really well, he kept it really honest and that allowed us to have the audience come back to us two years later when we started to actually promote the feature film release. It was something genuinely exciting. The audience connected to the journey and the teaser had over 10,000 views in the first week and that was with no paid promotion, they were all just genuine clicks.
Thats amazing! So to wrap up can you tell us about your favourite social media platforms that you are on and why?
Will: I have the three main players: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They all play very different parts. Facebook I have my personal profile, and then I have my professional page. I try to keep my personal one restricted to my friends and family. I update them with things in my life.
Whereas I use my professional page with the tone of ‘I’m a business’. I’m giving the followers updates on the business and the product. Which is really hard to say, because we’re not a product, we’re just people. I only started it because Ben Hall called for it, we needed more opportunities to promote the film. The Ben Hall page was doing amazingly well but we needed to show that other platforms were supporting it as well.
“We’re not a product, we’re just people”
The way I see it is, “what updates do my family want” and that allows me to take myself out of it, with my self judgement and I can post anything that I feel is appropriate and I think I’m doing alright. This way I make the audience a part of the family. I don’t think they feel bombarded. Sometimes I’m worried I’ll get a message saying, hey mate you should probably slow down.
I share information that excites me about my projects and also highlights the things that Matthew has already put up. He’s the super machine behind it really.
A big thank you to Will Lee for joining me for this weeks blog post! It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to capture the interview in all its multimedia glory but there is one clip from the interview that was usable.
Ironically, it was the moment just before we began the interview, after briefly discussing the structure of the questions.
Do you have any examples of Australian film marketing done well?
Are you in the industry and want me to feature you in my blog?
Leave a comment or get in touch and let me know!