March 2017
Thompson Brothers
What I Learned... 
Developing 'The Medicine Game' Sequel For YouTube 
By Luke Korver, Producer

Last May, producer Luke Korver took a bold step by launching a sequel to his film,
The Medicine Game, on the web. The film features two brothers (Jerome and Jeremy) from the Onondaga Nation who pursue their dreams of playing lacrosse for Syracuse University. T he sequel, Medicine Game II: Four Brothers, One Dream,   includes four short films about the lives of two more brothers (Miles and Lyle), their connection, assent to the top of the lacrosse world and the Thompson family. Once a week, Korver launched one of the four short films that make up the sequel, May 13-June 6. Not only did the sequel encourage engagement with the films, it also stimulated discussion about lacrosse, the Thompson brothers and their family, and the original film.

"I had a great experience creating the The Medicine Game II series. I went with a "straight to web strategy" to reach many of the people we didn't reach with the first film, which went to broadcast, DVD, and is now on iTunes and Amazon streaming services," Korver said. 

Korver points out that the Thompson Brothers have a young, built-in audience that follows them very closely along all forms of social media. "I figured we could tap into that fan base by creating content that the brothers could share directly with those fans who may not be watching PBS or feature length content in general, but rather consuming shorter form content on YouTube and on their phones."

The producer liked the YouTube route because the videos are easily linked and shared on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. He also wanted the content to be free in order to maximize the viewership reach. 

According to Korver, the first question out of everyone who approached him about the first film was, "When are you making a sequel?" 

"So, this film was for our original fans as well. I was hopeful that the fans of the first film, at least those who liked us on Facebook--some 3,000 of them--would be easy to reach as well. By looking at the play counts it was obvious that we reached a large audience and I'm confident it was a good mixture of the old and new fans, young and old," Korver said.

Korver's advice to anyone developing a web series:  create "extra" content to use pre- and post-release. Posting video clips can provide fresh content to potential viewers to remind them about your film and encourage them to engage. If you post the same trailer over and over the message gets lost in the shuffle and your social media feed grows stale. 

In addition to connecting with the social media audience the Thompson Brothers had already created, target audiences included lacrosse fans at key college sites, youth lacrosse fans, lacrosse supporters (including Nike), Native tribes, Native media and Native organizations. To date, the original web series videos have received a total of nearly 200,000 views. After the initial launch, the videos were placed in a playlist that includes a trailer and the four short films, which remain available to view on the Vision Maker Media YouTube site.

A major advantage for Korver was an extensive portfolio of photography provided by Nike and made available for posting. It's important to have a variety of photos available in order to keep the audience interested in the topic.
Audience Results: 40 Years. 40 Films. 40 Weeks. 
We're at the halfway point in streaming some of the best programs from our collection. In a partnership with American Archive of Public Broadcasting, WGBH and the  Library of Congress, we've completed 21 weeks of free streaming. Our films have garnered a total of 3,268 views since free streaming began in November 2016. Results by month: November - 1,162; 
December - 271; January - 810; February - 1,025.

Free streaming continues through Aug. 7.  Share our link and spread the word about upcoming films. Full Schedule  
Upcoming Films

April 4 - The Creek Runs Red
April 11 - In the Light of Reverence
April 18 - Standing Silent Nation
April 25 - The Great American Footrace

Producer Hopes 
Film Inspires  Change, 
Stereotype Reversal

Pr oducer Julianna Brannum believes the Native perspective is rarely heard in the mainstream and it's important that "our voices and knowledge be shared today."The Creek Runs Red tells how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls the mining town of Picher, Oklahoma, the most toxic place in America, but the Quapaw Tribe still calls it home.  Today, the town is divided by fears of serious health risks, environmental politics, civic pride and old racial tensions between the Quapaw people and the non-Indian community who share the town. 

Julianna's film  is featured on Vision Maker Media's 40 Years. 40 Films. 40 Weeks 
project during the week of April 4. She answers important questions about her filmmaking experience.

Q.  Why should other producers and filmmakers work with Vision Maker Media?
A. Because they are supportive of your project every step of the way. They provide the answers to the complex questions of distribution and promotion.

Q. What aspect of working with Vision Maker Media was the most worthwhile or rewarding?
A. They helped me to understand how the public television system works and provided the funds to develop, shoot and complete my project; you can't ask for much more than that!

Q. What one experience would you want audiences to take away after viewing your film?
A. I want them to be inspired! Inspired by a positive story in Indian Country, to be inspired to create change, and to reverse the stereotypes of Indigenous peoples.

Q. What advice would you give to filmmakers beginning their careers?
A. Don't be scared--have fun. I would suggest finding the stories you want to tell and begin thinking about how to develop them and then go out and shoot with whatever you've got. Go with something easy and local at first--a story of a family member or something happening in your community. That way you don't get bogged down with financial costs and schedules.

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Producer Newsletter Vol. 11 Issue 3
A list of opportunities for filmmakers to help increase
 the diversity  of the media landscape.