Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, March 12, 2021

In his own words, Philippe Martinez “can smell the talent out there”.

“There” being here, and “here” being Tampa Bay, which is where Martinez has relocated his independent film studios, looking to make it big in the American movie market from his Largo headquarters.

Why come here, of all places? As is the case with many Tampa Bay transplants, Martinez has family roots in the area, which helps attract. And after years of having dual operational centers in London and Los Angeles, Florida wound up being an odd middle ground for consolidation.

But even if you were to choose the Sunshine State as a home base for a major motion picture studio, I have a hard time seeing why it would be in this metro area. Orlando has an established grouping of production facilities that attract people from all rungs of the movie business (although nowhere near the scale of those in New York or LA). Miami has loads of the model and fashion talent with New York ties, which can easily be transitioned to film work.

Tampa Bay? Aside from the great locations (which largely can be replicated in other parts of Florida), there’s not much else going for it as a film mecca. There’s always the Scientology angle, which perhaps helped bring last year’s The Punisher production to the area. Martinez is counting on the existence of the same thriving stage-actor scene he experienced here back in the ’80s, and using that as a cheap and accessible talent pool. I’m no expert, but I don’t really think there’s a significant population of acting professionals in the Bay area right now.

Still, who am I to argue? Martinez’s company, Bauer Martinez Studios, is not just some dinky little indie shop. It’s made a name for itself overseas, and it can boast of some notable talent participating in its professional-grade productions:

- Citizen Verdict stars Jerry Springer (yes, that Jerry Springer), Roy Scheider, and Armand Assante;

- Modigliani stars Andy Garcia;

- Wake of Death stars Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Yes, yes, let the jokes commence: None of these guys is at their career apex right now (with the possible exception of Springer). But they’re not complete nobodies, either. For a smaller operation, these Hollywood big-budget refugees provide valuable name recognition, which helps draw people (even if that doesn’t happen until the DVD hits Blockbuster — where something like Wake of Death actually can generate a healthy cash flow).

Being a little fish vying with the Paramounts and Disneys for the public’s attention, Bauer Martinez has to be nimble in order to stand out. That’s where it gets interesting, especially from a marketing and creative perspective:

Martinez also wants to tap other local resources, beginning with marketing. He plans to contact film schools across Florida, offering cash rewards for unique ideas to sell his movies. “I’m convinced there’s a kid somewhere who has better ideas than us,” he said.

“Most film distributors are run by kids who get $20-million to promote popcorn movies. I am convinced there’s another way to do it. We want to use Tampa, St. Pete and Clearwater as a laboratory of testing our ideas about how we want to promote films.”

Those include traditional measures such as premiere screenings with spotlights and stars in attendance, and ideas spiced with old-fashioned ballyhoo, such as a proposed newspaper ad for Citizen Verdict presented as a questionnaire on the film’s topic of capital punishment, with Springer and Uncle Sam looking equally grim.

Another bounty for promising screenplays is under consideration. “I believe that out there, in this town, is some young writer with a lot of talent who has a fantastic screenplay that we can put together for under $1-million,” Martinez said. “Sometimes, those movies become wonderful surprises.”

I think, naturally, they’d be looking for Internet-based promotional hooks, including viral marketing, blogs, and contests (all of which work very well with movies, and can do wonders for building buzz). The idea is to stand out and apart from the pack, and gain attention as a result. Looking for people outside the center of the movie universe also means looking to do it cheaper, naturally.

It’s looking like an uphill battle. Still, I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Stranger things have happened, and I’d love to see Martinez’s hopes sprout into a vibrant local movie-making scene. And if it helps, I’ll be glad to lend my modest talents to their future efforts; if not in Web or publishing expertise, then maybe in screenwriting (but only if they tap, say, Winona Ryder for a project).

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/12/2021 07:30:32 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Florida Livin', Movies | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Ask anybody: I’m a man of varied and refined tastes.

That doesn’t explain why I’m getting alarming amounts of entertainment out of this $2 impulse-buy Hubba Bubba Cluckers wind-up chicken toy, which lays little bubble gum eggs as it walks.

Hey, at least I didn’t buy the gum-pooping pig or cow.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/12/2021 04:44:21 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback (2)