Bringing a Cult Film Festval to Your Town

8 06 2014

We have the great luck of a retail shopping destination client with a 500-seat cultural venue. On the not-so-great side, it’s a challenge to attract patrons and shoppers during South Florida’s off season – the incredibly hot and humid summers (with added bonus of hurricane season). Mainstreet at Midtown is known for its year-round outdoor festivals and events like a 16-week Music on the Plaza concert series (held during the drier and cooler months of the peak social season), its Peace Love & Wellness Music Festival, Children’s Festival, Cool Yule Tree Decorating Contest, and others.

swede fest palm beach 3So, we needed a summer event, and it REALLY needed to be indoors.

And then NPR did this great piece a couple of years ago about an underground film event that sounded like the perfect idea we could get behind and make our client’s own. Indie film festivals have a rich history of showcasing amazing undiscovered talent, where Hollywood insiders troll for the next big thing, where A-list stars promote the small labor-of-love projects they do between blockbusters. swede fest™ palm beach is an indie film festival with NONE of that going for it. In fact, our tagline is “Bad Movies by Good People.”

The key to understanding why is in the “swede.” A swede is a no-budget, laughably bad remake of a hit Hollywood film – the bigger, the better. The term comes from the 2008 Jack Black/Mos Def comedy, Be Kind Rewind, and was made up to explain the sheer awfulness of their remade films by touting them as European – “swedes” because it sounded really sophisticated. Not exactly a classic in its genre, but neither is it comedy kryptonite.

swede fest palm beach 3Next thing you know, there’s an underground sweding craze. Two guys in Fresno invited a bunch of friends to make films starring themselves, then get together to screen them, like they do at Sundance, SXSW, Telluride, Slamdance, Tribeca, and so on – but without the beautiful celebrities, coolness factor, or bidding wars. Hence the coverage on NPR.

We’re the third official swede fest™. First, Fresno. Then, Tampa Bay. Now, the Palm Beaches. This is the third year, and we sell out every time, create super fun/cheesy marketing, a great microsite, go crazy on social media: www.facebook.com/swedefestpalmbeach and www.twitter.com/swedefestpb , give out silly awards (Best Use of a Backyard Location, Best Use of Man’s Best Friend, Best Use of Tinfoil), and everyone generally has a great time and gets dressed up in total Hollywood drag.

Local schools get involved and sometimes do them as class projects, and the community and local media really get behind it because we deliberately created an all-ages event – you can swede any film, but your 3-minute clip must be PG-13, even if your source material is not. We’ve had swedes of Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and The Thing, and already we have someone who has submitted The Wolf of Wall Street for this year’s festival on August 2. We’re anxious to see exactly how they’ll sanitize that one.

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Birth of a Brand Identity

29 01 2014

No, it’s not exactly high art.

It is, however, art with a somewhat higher exposure than the fine paintings ensconced in a museum or gallery. A bad logo won’t stop your business from growing – but a good one can catapult you into the cortex of your consumer.

Creating logo ideas, pitching them to the client, gathering feedback, refining ideas and possibly combining elements from multiple options, pitching them again, gathering more feedback…it would be nice to brag that we hit it out of the park every time, but sometimes the process takes some time.

Alchemy recently created a brand identity for a historic building that a developer is turning into luxury loft apartments. We developed a name and tagline for the property, then needed to create a visual identity. Long story short, the building has a major tie to Alexander Graham Bell.

While they considered dozens of name ideas (all of which have to be reasearched to be sure there is not a competing property in the same market with a similar name, or in any of the markets the developer builds from South Florida to updstate New York), the one the client ultimately chose is Alexander Lofts.

What follows are the logo concepts we showed at the first brand presentation:

From that, the consensus was that we should take two of the logos they liked best, and apply a color palette the interior designer was working with. These are the refinements:

Then, it was decided that since the color scheme was still up in the air while we needed to start producing building graphics, outdoor marketing, and a landing site, we should find colors that were IN BETWEEN the two possible shade palettes.AL logo fence

We can’t make this stuff up.

Et voila, to the right you see the final logo applied to fence wraps. You can see the landing site we designed here: www.alexanderloftswpb.com. Up next is a full website, leasing collateral, coordination of a public art project (mural on one side of the building), and other elements.





We Have Some Reservations…

6 06 2013

swede fest 2 palm beachIt’s time for SWEDE FEST™ 2 PALM BEACH. If you’re a fan of MST3K (and you won’t know what that means if you’re not), a swede fest™ is a similar animal. But instead of making snarky comments to two robots about a cheesy science fiction flick, you make your own cheesy three-minute “homage” to a scene from a favorite film, which is known in certain circles as a “swede.”

Why are they called swedes? We’re so glad you asked.

Sf2013_FB_Square1 dateYou probably know indie film festivals have a rich history of showcasing amazing undiscovered talent, where Hollywood insiders troll for the next big thing, where A-list stars promote the small labor-of-love projects they do between blockbusters. A swede fest is an indie film festival with NONE of that going for it.

The key to understanding why is in the “swede” part. A swede is a no-budget, laughably bad remake of a hit Hollywood film – the bigger, the better. The term comes from the 2008 comedy, “Be Kind Rewind,” and was made up to explain the sheer awfulness of their remade films by touting them as European – “swedes” because it sounded really sophisticated.  This film, starring Jack Black and Mos Def, is not exactly a classic — but neither is it comedy kryptonite.

A still from the swede for "Point Break"

A still from the swede for “Point Break” already submitted by some over-achievers.

And bada bing! Next thing you know, there’s an underground sweding craze. Two guys in Fresno invited a bunch of friends to make films starring themselves, then get together to screen them in another homage: to the indie film festival – but without the beautiful celebrities, coolness factor, or bidding wars. And that, my friends, is how we ultimately come to SWEDE FEST™ 2 PALM BEACH.

We’re sweding a sci-fi/horror classic. Nope, not telling. And we have friends sweding “gems” (yes, in quotes, because the following movies are neither precious nor squeal-worthy)  like Ghost, Point Break, Titanic, and The Shining. A full list of the movies reserved for sweding is at www.swedefestpalmbeach.com. You can also buy tickets there to the July 27th festival for the outrageous sum of $5 per person.

And if you are interested in playing director (and star, and editor, and production assistant, etc.), you should call dibs on your movie today. SWEDE FEST™ 2 PALM BEACH allows one entry per film, so if someone else loves Mannequin as much as you do, you could be SOL. The deadline to submit is July 9th at 11:59 PM. Instructions for submission are on the same website.

Guess we should mention that, again this year, we designed all the stuff (logos, collateral, ads, swag, you know the drill), including that groovy low-tech website. Do we love WordPress or what?





SWEDE FEST™PALM BEACH Opens Big!

12 08 2012

Any time you work on a brand-new event with a client, there’s always the possibility that — even with a great concept and a clever hook, after everyone’s hard work, late nights, inspired ideas, creativity, sharp copy, media hooks, great pitches, relentless social media outreach, promises from everyone to cover the event, smart media buys, great sponsors, high-profile partners, and every other factor you can imagine — you’ll have a half-full venue. There are so many intangibles you can’t control; then add in that it’s summer, in Florida, during hurricane season, when it usually rains every afternoon from 4:00pm until 7:00pm, it’s hot and humid and hair gets frizzy, people are away on last-minute vacations before school starts and/or work gets back to a more normal schedule, and did we mention it’s summer? And that no one knows what a “swede” is?

Midtown's Belle Forino and Sherri Gedraitis in front of the step-and-repeat using our logo and graphics

Midtown’s Belle Forino and Sherri Gedraitis in front of the step-and-repeat using our logo and graphics

Yet none of that seemed to matter last Friday night when the inaugural SWEDE FEST™PALM BEACH launched to a sold out crowd of over 500 attendees on Mainstreet at Midtown.From the red carpet in front of The Borland Center for Performing Arts through the final credits, this was high-energy entertainment for everyone involved, with “swedes” submitted by amateur filmmakers ages 10 to 60.

First, the BG. A swede is a no-budget, laughably bad remake of a hit Hollywood film – the bigger, the better. The term comes from the 2008 Jack Black/Mos Def comedy, Be Kind Rewind, and was made up to explain the sheer awfulness of their remade films by touting them as European – swedes, because it sounded really sophisticated.  No, you probably didn’t see it — it’s not exactly a classic, but neither is it comedy kryptonite. If you did see it, it was probably late at night on Skinemax. We mean Cinemax.

Next thing you know, there’s an underground sweding craze. Two guys in Fresno invited a bunch of friends to make films starring themselves, then get together to screen them in another homage: to the indie film festival – but without the beautiful celebrities, coolness factor, or bidding wars.

And that is the somewhat long and winding road that leads to swede fest™ palm beach, the third official swede fest™. First, Fresno. Then, Tampa Bay. Now, “the Palm Beaches” but really, Palm Beach Gardens, where our client is located. We suggested it was important to secure the trademark in such a way to lock up the event in the area and own it; anyone who wished to come afterward and imitate it would not be able to just tack on another word and piggyback on all our client’s financial investment and hard work. Sad, but a fact in the world of marketing and events.

swede fest logo, color variant #1

swede fest logo, color variant #1

Our job was to come up with the logo, tagline, all of the graphics necessary for social media, create a WordPress-based website for swede fest™ palm beach, write all the content for it, produce two 15-second promo commercials to be show in the local Cobb movie theaters (one promoting the call for entries and the other promoting the festival itself), and work closely with Belle Forino, our client Midtown’s Marketing Coordinator, to manage the social media while she approached local schools, the Palm Beach International Film Festival, the entertainment community, the Palm Beach County Film Commission, and Digital Domain (who became a major sponsor along with its Digital Domain Institute) to drum up support for a grassroots amateur film festival in which short, DIY versions of big-budget feature films are reproduced as cheaply as possible, using family and friends as cast; bedrooms, backyards, and local parks as sets; and toys, pets, and found objects as props.

swede fest palm beach Call For Entries :30 TV Spot from swede fest palm beach on Vimeo.

Bringing a swede fest™ to the area was Belle’s idea after hearing a story on NPR. She contacted the Fresno-based originators, and we were on our way with their blessing and the trademark.

Next came the design of the swede fest™ palm beach logo, and the creation of our tagline “A celebration of bad movie by good people,” which has been variously attributed to other people and festivals, but was created by Alchemy for Midtown. Swede fest tampa bay liked it so much they asked to use it, and in the best swedeing spirit, Belle said, “Of course.” Swede fests aren’t about competition; they’re about the love of movies, a fondness for a good time, and how sometimes bad can be so very good.

Once we settled on a basic logo design, we needed a variety of iterations: a “call for entries” version, a general all-purpose version, a variety of sizes to accommodate Facebook, Twitter, various electronic media buys, the creation of a masthead for the swedefestpalmbeach.com website, and versions in two complementary color schemes in various resolutions for print, web, and other uses.

The electronic "mea culpa" on the date thing

The electronic “mea culpa” on the date thing

We decided the fastest and easiest way to create a web presence for the festival was to build a WordPress-based site hosted on the MidtownPGA.com servers, availing ourselves of the handy array of templates and widgets that would eliminate the hours of programming necessary to create a site from scratch or add everything we envisioned it needing to the existing Midtown website. The site could then be constantly modified, added to, and manipulated by Alchemy rather than adding to the already heavy maintenance schedule of Midtown’s webmaster.

The date for the festival, the opening of the entry submissions and the deadline for those entries, and other milestones were scheduled in early March. However, everyone was so focused on educating people about swede fests, getting them excited about creating films and entering them, creating all of these ad/promo/social media elements, getting the local media interested in the event, securing an emcee, and all the thousand other details that ONE LITTLE THING escaped us that had a tremendous impact: the announcement that the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London would be on Friday, August 27th. Yes, the same day we’d scheduled swede fest™ palm beach.

Rather than see this as a PR disaster, once we knew we could roll the date back one week and still have our venue, we recommended that we make a big joke out of the situation rather than engage in any hand-wringing (we did enough of that internally). So we put out a media alert that said:

We’ve tried to ignore it, but it’s time we addressed what you all have been thinking: yes it’s true, the opening ceremony of the London Summer Olympic Games is ON THE SAME NIGHT AS SWEDE FEST™ PALM BEACH.

The date change graphic

The date change graphic

You can’t fight the power. So we’re taking the high road. We’re willing to step aside and let the U.S. Olympic athletes, and the rest of those competing, have that special night without us siphoning off their audience. We’re moving SWEDE FEST™ PALM BEACH back a week to FRIDAY, AUGUST 3. Same time, same place. Because there’s no way they can pull off such a sweet move.

Since we’re moving our renegade amateur film festival back a week, we’re going to give our sweders another week, too. THE DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES ROLLS BACK TO FRIDAY, JULY 20. Everyone wins.

Put it on your calendars now. SWEDE FEST™ PALM BEACH deadline for entries is Friday, July 20. SWEDE FEST™ PALM BEACH is Friday, August 3. Screenings begin at 7:00PM at The Borland Center for Performing Arts. Take that, London.

And created a graphic that we emailed to the database and posted to all our social media that was essentially a gigantic mea culpa. It worked.

swede fest palm beach Event Announcement :15 TV Spot from swede fest palm beach on Vimeo.

The "sweded" Mainstreet at Midtown logo

The “sweded” Mainstreet at Midtown logo

And in spite of the fact that this did create a few glitches (the need to find new emcees — The Jove Comedy Experience stepped in and were just amazing; the fact that so many community calendars had already run the original date and it was too late to get most of them to run the new date; and a few other little things), the client was thrilled with the media coverage, the event turnout, how many new visitors of all ages were on Mainstreet at Midtown that night, how many great people volunteered “in kind” sponsorships to be involved (edited to mention that Hollywood Cupcake makes Kelly’s heart sing for joy and her cupcakes are little sugar bombs of happiness and rainbows and angels singing. Was that too much?)

In fact, we think you can consider a first-time event a success when the client tells you at said event the date she’s chosen for next year’s event.

The best-dressed swedeing team EVER

The best-dressed swedeing team EVER

swede fest™ palm beach will be on Friday, August 2, 2013 for those of you who want to start planning what film to swede now and whether you’ll be raiding Goodwill’s toy department for your cast, your pets will play supporting roles, or whether you’ve always secretly wanted to wear a superhero costume and/or play Wolverine. You know you want it.

The team who sweded "Old School"

The team who sweded “Old School”

Yep. we’re going to go out on a limb and say that not only do people now know what a swede is, we’ll easily double the almost 40 entries in swede fest™ palm beach 2012 with an embarrassment of riches — in this case, a plethora of swedes — in 2013. This is what special event are supposed to do for your client, and this little renegade, amateur film festival really delivered.





Honoring Traditions with Modern Style: Pawar Inc. uses Alchemy for Logo

1 04 2011
The logo and tagline...

The logo and tagline...

Sometimes Steve has the opportunity to create something really beautiful, and after so many years creating logos for luxury real estate developments, I think it’s kind of a treat for him to do something so diametrically opposite.  In this case, he created a logo for someone we respect and admire, who started her own very niche business.

Amen Pawar-LaRosa is an extraordinary special event planner, and she is now on her own specializing in traditional Indian wedding ceremonies with a contemporary twist — the tagline we developed together is, “Honoring Traditions with Modern Style.” As she describes it on her website, “Our passion is to plan flawless events that reflect the traditions of the families coming together and the present-day trends that echo the style and taste of the bride and groom.”

What she needed was a logo that utilized the traditional color palette familiar to Indian wedding ceremonies, spoke to the aesthetics of wedding planning, and our expectations of what visual elements are associated with marriage ceremonies. One of the most common and iconic symbols of the joining of two people are flowers. In addition, we needed a very stylized way to present her business name, as well as create a mark that would be both memorable and beautiful.

The logo mark...

The logo mark...

The stylized rose that is the center focal point of the logo is rendered in shades of honeysuckle, pink, and fuchsia that are eye-catching and achingly, delicately gorgeous. The feedback from women AND men has been that the colors are “just so beautiful.”

Blooming from the center of the flower is Amen’s logo mark, a “marriage” of the first two letters of “Pawar Inc.”  It was important to give her a mark that could stand on its own for various applications when the full logo, business name, and tagline were not necessary.

I think what Steve created perfectly reflects not only what Pawar Inc. is, but reflects Amen’s personality as well. It is simply lovey to watch her bloom, and we wish her the greatest of success.








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