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Cucalorus 10X10 Project Gives Startups Screen Time, Experience

By Jenny Callison, posted Nov 18, 2014
After a feverish effort over the space of four days to create a five-minute video for a specific startup, a group of filmmakers and their subjects gathered at Wilmington’s TheatreNOW on Sunday afternoon to view the results.

All were participants in a Cucalorus Film Festival initiative dubbed 10X10: a matchup between 10  filmmakers and 10 emerging companies. Filmers and filmees had met each other for the first time Nov. 11, a day before the festival kickoff and four days before their submission deadline.

“The matches were done by random selection,” said Will Smith, co-owner of WaterPlay USA, one of the participating companies. “They put our names in a bowl and put the filmmakers’ names in a bowl, picked them out one at a time and paired us up.”

Once the pairings were done at that initial meeting, held at CastleBranch Corp.’s tekMountain, filmmakers and owners of their assigned companies got acquainted and brainstormed ideas for the video.

Sunday’s screening showed the audience just where those ideas led the teams. The videos ranged from straightforward informational pitches to artistic and sometimes amusing riffs on the nature of the business or the entrepreneur. In one case, the business subject – Elsewhere and Alive in the Kitchen – and its whimsical treatment by the filmmaker required explanation via a second, documentary video.

The challenge, according to Cucalorus officials who designed the program, was to create, within a constrained time frame, a short video that would strike a balance between art and business: conveying a promotional message in a creative, audience-pleasing way.

A few of the filmmakers also set themselves personal challenges, such as learning how to use a particular kind of equipment or technology. Others had additional challenges imposed upon them.
Jonathan Richey of Griffin Drones in Calabash, paired with WaterPlay USA, came up short in the weather department as he tried to shoot footage for the company, an online resource for booking water recreation-related vacations and activities.

“We had one day of sunshine. Nobody was out on the water,” Richey said.

Smith and his brother and fellow WaterPlay owner Walt Smith prevailed on the folks at Wrightsville SUP to get out on their boards for the filming around Wrightsville Beach. The brothers also involved Wilmington Water Tours to get footage of boat activity on the river in downtown Wilmington.

“We were fortunate to get matched with Jonathan, because he specializes in filming with drones,” Will Smith said. “He used a drone for all the water footage and aerial shots, which was much more effective than using a standard camera.”

Jeff Beaucicault, who is launching Pawn-O-Gram, an app to help people locate specific items at pawn shops and to help pawn shops purvey their goods to potential buyers, was paired with University of North Carolina Wilmington film student Ally Gold. The resulting video told a bit about Beaucicault and his motivation for designing the app, while recording his efforts to introduce the app to area pawn shops.

“I wanted to do kind of a profile on Jeff,” Gold said.

Beaucicault and the Smiths have posted their 10X10 videos on their respective Facebook sites.

“Our video on social media has kind of blown up,” Will Smith said, adding that he and his brother plan to work with Richey on another video in the next year.

“Video can truly showcase what WaterPlay can do,” he said. “We’ve got some ideas and thoughts behind what we want to do with it, and we’ll have a little more time to work on it next time.”

Dan Brawley, Cucalorus Film Festival executive director, said in an earlier interview that one important objective of 10X10 was to demonstrate the value that film can bring to businesses. This project, which involved some fledgling filmmakers as well as very young companies, was a demonstration of how and how not to present subjects on screen.

“You have to get your public speaking on and your PR on,” filmmaker Khang Mai, who created the video for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, commented at Sunday's screening. “As an entrepreneur, when there’s a camera in your face, you’d better be ready.”

In addition to Pawn-O-Gram, WaterPlay USA, Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Elsewhere and Alive in the Kitchen, entities participating in the 10X10 project were Easy Vote, Edge of Urge, Indigru, tekMountain, the N.C. Black Film Festival and Upcycle Brands.
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