'Entertain First, Advertise Second': Q&A with Made Out East
Jordan P. Kelley, Content Director, Brand Storytelling
Much of today's branded entertainment is designed to compete for audience attention where those audiences live - on their phones and online. Gaining that attention by way of entertainment demands an abundance of creativity, and there's no shortage of that at Made Out East. The full service creative agency and production company provides end-to-end service in their pursuit to dream, create, and ultimately inspire audiences to take a second look at what they've just watched. Created by Co-Founders Sam Pezzullo and Anon Omis (he's more of an 'in-person' kind of person), this collective of creators approach their craft with a keen eye for the entertaining and a stellar sense of humor. Their latest - a trailer for 'Scream: The Musical' - takes a fun and funny approach at expanding on existing IP by way of creating more content for audiences to watch and enjoy, all while generating opportunities for brand recognition and product placement along the way (they're even raising funds for a full-length version!).
Brand Storytelling caught up with the co-founders of Made Out East to learn more about their approach to creativity, storytelling, and what's next for the team:
Can you each give us a bit of background on how you got your start as storytellers?
SAM: My earliest aspirations were to entertain people, regardless of the method. On film, on stage, on paper, anything. I’ve always been a performer at heart and then over time that evolved into a career producing behind the camera, with an interest in telling stories that focused on other people, but still resonated with me on a deep and personal level. Everything I do and every story I want to tell is inspired by experiences I’ve had. I believe that truth is stranger than fiction and that is the foundation of approach to creating content, both branded and original, fiction and nonfiction, that is grounded in the experiences that connect and relate us.
ANON: I have been in trouble my whole life. Telling stories was my only way out.
What inspired the launch of Made Out East?
SAM: We joined forces under the most unlikely of circumstances. A result of good timing, paths crossing during a global pandemic and a respect and admiration for each other’s creativity, talent and ability to make shit happen. While we are very different we managed to find common ground in a mutual disposition to dream big and we discovered that we had the resources, experience, and audacity to pursue our aspirations together, rather than individually. It’s a pretty simple case of two creative heads being better than one, and it’s been a recipe for success.
What is your general approach to creating something with a brand?
SAM: When it comes to branded content, I think you should entertain first and advertise second. Create something that can transcend the marketing objectives and appeal to people on a level that elicits some emotion whether it’s laughter or anger or amazement, while still cleverly and subtly integrating the brand. That will motivate people to not only watch the content but share it.
ANON: Capture the essence.
How do you decide what creative thread to follow when it comes time to move from ideation to strategy and production?
SAM: Go into something with a very clear vision and a good understanding of what you need to achieve creatively and also how to execute it. But be prepared to be flexible enough to allow for spontaneity. Embrace the unexpected and the organic story that reveals itself.
ANON: Follow the thread that scares me the most.
Tell us more about your recent release - the trailer for “Scream the Musical”
SAM: The response to the trailer has been overwhelmingly positive! Initially our only goal was to make something that could promote the new SCREAM movie in an unexpected way. Given my background doing hidden camera scare pranks for horror movies, we wanted to do something that was a complete departure from that format. Something that could establish a distinct personality and voice for our company, with a subtle wink to my past work, proving that we're not one trick ponies. We also wanted it to reflect SCREAMS legacy as a parody and comedic commentary on horror film culture. We relied solely on the strength of the vision we had, and the talents of the people we collaborated with, and the outcome has exceeded all of our expectations. We are going all in on this concept to complete a feature length version to submit to Festivals for theatrical and streaming distribution! We are thrilled to be working with our friends at Seed & Spark to raise the money to finish this film, as they have the highest campaign success rate in the world, it was over 85% in 2021, and that’s because their crowdfunding specialists are always learning from campaigns and giving feedback that helps creators succeed! We are confident and hopeful that we have a great piece of material here that will resonate with audiences and hope they will consider supporting us here.
ANON: It’s got a way about it.
How valuable is it for brands to invest in this type of media? How do you convey that value to your clients?
SAM: Our philosophy is that brands need to operate like content studios to create stuff that breaks the mold and resonates with consumers. This piece of material proves that. You can generate lots of interest and attention when you focus less on communicating attributes of a product or service, or in this case, a film, and instead tell a story that allows you to cleverly integrate whatever it is you're trying to promote.
ANON: Perception is everything. We offer the opportunity to alter it.
What’s next for Made Out East? Where can we keep up with your latest work? SAM: As producing partners we want to walk the line between branded and original content. We are excited by the possibility to collaborate and create meaningful, impactful, entertainment with brands that we personally love. But we also want to explore our own passion projects in the narrative and documentary film and television space. Stay tuned for lots more of this type of stuff! You can keep up with us on Instagram: @madeouteast and our website: www.madeouteast.com
ANON: A feature length documentary and 10 part mini series about people and place.
About Sam Pezzullo
Sam is a Webby, Clio, and Shorty award-winning Producer with a background in viral marketing, branded content, film production, media promotion and strategy. He spent six years making videos at Thinkmodo, the world's leading viral marketing agency where he created content for clients including Warner Bros., Sony, Paramount, Oakley, Verizon, Amazon, and YouTube. Those videos earned more than 3 billion views and generated global media coverage. He also oversees the programming and production of Tribeca X, a section of the Tribeca Film Festival that recognizes branded storytelling. He also works with The Gotham (Formerly IFP) and The Hamptons Film Festival.
About Anon Omis
Anon is an explorer. An artist. And a familyman. He's also an in person kind of person.