Q&A With Sub-Genre's Brian Newman


DamNation - 2014

We met Brian Newman earlier this year in Park City while at our event Brand Storytelling at Sundance Film Festival 2017. Brian is no stranger to the film festival scene, as he has served as CEO of the Tribeca Film Institute and currently sits on the advisory board of the Camden International Film Festival. That, combined with his extensive experience in film and video media, lends itself to the work Brian does at his company Sub-Genre, a consulting firm that works with major brands by utilizing film and new media to implement strategic marketing campaigns. Sub-Genre’s clients include Yeti, Patagonia, and Sonos, to name a few. We got the opportunity to catch up with Brian this week about the work he does and his take on what makes a great branded story.

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How does Sub-Genre enable a brand to communicate its message and ideals through story?

At Sub-Genre, we help brands by connecting them directly with talented filmmakers and story-tellers to create genuine, moving stories that communicate the brand's ideals to an audience. We also build a campaign around these films to engage an audience through traditional film channels - theaters, film festivals, broadcast and online platforms. We build a movement around the film instead of simply buying eyeballs through ad-spend. In the best examples, such as Charged, from Yeti or DamNation from Patagonia, we can tell stories that resonate and inspire audiences to make a difference.

How do you partner the right filmmaker with a brand? Before I founded Sub-Genre, I worked for years as a funder and supporter of filmmakers - running film festivals, the Rockefeller Fellowships and the Tribeca Film Institute. The staff here all have film backgrounds as well. Because of that background, I have great relationships with the best filmmakers in the business, and I know which filmmakers are right for which stories. I can also help build trust between the brand and the filmmaker, which allows them to tell a more creative story.

What is the secret to generating and distributing a great piece of branded content?

The secret is having a great story and a great storyteller. Every aspect of the distribution is made 100 times easier when you've got a great film. We spend a lot of time as story-editors - not adding more brand messaging, but making sure the filmmaker tells the best possible story. We start as early as eighteen months before the film launches, building an audience for the film, positioning it with the top film festivals and finding the best way to leverage the brands other marketing assets to bring the film to the largest, organic audience possible. And we work with lots of partners for every launch- film publicists, theatrical bookers, nonprofit's working on related causes, and others who can help us make sure the film finds its audience in the marketplace.

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