Some of you may remember when I featured Cristobal Ross and Nicolas Balbontin’s hilarious bilingual web series Gringolandia in the LA Weekly last year. They were very savvy about the way they promoted and funded season one. They released a TEASER VIDEO about what Americans think of Chile that went VIRAL with their intended audience for the series and got them 20k subscribers and backing by a brand before they even premiered the series! Since they just released SEASON 2 (see vid above) I figured I’d share the show again and my interview with Ross about his process so that new readers could enjoy and learn too. You can watch Gringolandia and Subscribe HERE! Here’s my LA WEEKLY article about the show as well. Happy Tuesday!
We started the company with my business partner and editor of the series, Nicolas Balbontin (business management degree and film at Hunter College) that had been working in NY for the advertising business for the past 4 years. A very talented, creative and smart guy. Contento means happy in spanish, and thats our company´s main goal.
we strive to produce video content for a digital audience, adapting the storytelling to fit an environment where the consumer´s habits have changed and technologies evolve at a fast pace.
We are a one stop shop for brands who want to connect with their consumers in an attractive, organic and efficient way.
2) What inspired you to create the series? Why this premise and why a web series?
I did this instead of going to film school. I realized shortfilms wherent the best format to start for me, since they dont have much possibilities to get funded. Webseries sounded perfect, since I could have the chance to learn filmmaking but also having the potential to recover the costs and eventually make a living out of this. Its a flexible format, relatively new, is constantly evolving, brands are producing original content and it has the potential to make several seasons to capitalize the content for a longer period of time. Too many good things not to go for it.
The premise was a mixture between what my main strength was at the moment (living in NY), I could write about something that I know (I´m also an immigrant ) and it also deals with universal subjects like adaptation, self identity and the voyage.
3) I LOVE the cast. How did you go about finding each of your actors? Did you know any beforehand?
I love them too!! For the Northamerican actors we did a casting call and actually met them for the first time on set, when we shot the promotional viral teasers. Before that was just Skype. Their reel was enough to tell they were great actors. They were amazing, I can thank them enough for putting all that energy into it and that finally reflects on the screen.
As for Koke, the lead, he is a sort of YouTube star in Chile and this is the first time he plays a character in fiction for internet. I contacted him through a friend and brought him over for 2 weeks to shoot. He fit the character perfectly and got along great with the rest of the cast. His english was surprisingly rich and allowed him to make comedy with it, which is hard to do in a different language.
4) How did you go about promoting the series? Are web series ‘a thing’ in Chile/South America yet? You’ve got a huge amount of views — do you think your audience is mostly Spanish or English speakers?
The first promotional stage aimed at Chile, where the show had most possibilities to succeed at first. As a result, 95% of our audience is Chilean and the rest are probably Chileans living abroad. The campaign started with a viral video that reached 50k views on the first week, allowing us to build a big fan base before premiering.
There are around 10 webseries in Chile so the audience was sort of familiarized with the term. Its growing fast, with around 7 more webseries for 2014.
8) Could you lay out some tips on how to get a company to back a web series, like you did for Season One of Gringolandia?
- Investigate the company before approaching to them. Understand who they are, what their values are, where do they spend their online advertising,what have they done in the past, etc. Also, who´s their creative/advertising agency. They probably work with one and it could be a good idea to try to sell the show through them.
- Who´s your audience? Age, nationality, sex, income? You should have an answer for that, even if its a guess. It HAS to match their customers profile.
- Each company is different, so each meeting, powerpoint, mail, pitch,etc must be tailored to the company´s needs.
- Find out who is the decision maker and try to find out as much as you can about him. Facebook, linkedin, etc. Also, try to guess how much budget is he capable of spending without asking his boss and how is he measured to get his annual bonu$ ( financial goals? subjective? performance?). This will tell you his incentives and constraints.
- Prepare to answer questions like views forecast, media partners, social networks efforts,etc.
- About the price, try to find out how much a regular company pays for each online “contact” or impression. That info should be available to the public and can go between 1 and 50 dollars per 1k views, depending on the content, campaign, etc.
- Once you are prepared for the meeting: call them or visit them. I´d never gotten a meeting just from an email.
- For a marketing executive a 5 minute pilot may be to long to watch at the meeting. I´d put together a 1 minute trailer with extra info about the show (plot, # episodes, views projections, media partners,etc).
-Lastly, I´d say this is one of the most difficult stages of the project, so don’t feel discouraged if it doesn’t work right away. There’s a learning curve, so make sure you do get some lessons from each meeting. Identify where your strengths are and improve your pitch from there.