December 31, 2008

Feliz Año Nuevo!

Holy cow, how'd it get to be 12/31/08?? Resolution time! I know, I know - you don't like to make resolutions b/c you either forget them 2 minutes after you make them (thank you, Dom Perignon) or you don't want the guilt of not fulfilling them. I don't really get that. I mean, I appreciate it - to each his/her own. Rock on. I just think that's kind of a cop out and, more importantly, a missed opportunity for reflection and goal-setting. Because time seems to compress as we get older (trust me) and the years literally whizz-bang by, I think it's easy to grow complacent and just go with the flow. Year in, year out - same, tired routine. But, we are all constantly evolving creatures. If you take the time to think about your life -- your career, relationships, habits, desires, dreams -- you'll discover realistic, obtainable baby steps that, ultimately, add up to major personal and/or professional achievements and growth. Shake it up! Take a chance! As Obama says, "Yes you can!". :)

For Cinedulce and the NY Int'l Latino Film Festival in 2009, Calixto and I have both concrete and general goals. I'm going to keep those private - no need for bad luck! But, what I will say is, on a personal level, I'm working on work/life balance (aren't we all??) and focusing on today; learn from the past, plan for the future, but stay focused on the present. Find joy in each day and count my blessings. Be kind and forgiving to myself (and, for that matter, to all in my life) because no one can be everything to everyone all of the time. We can only aspire to be our best selves. I want to try not to sweat the small stuff and pick my battles.
Give back to the community because the reward is far richer than the effort. And, of course, dream big - I still believe I can have it all if I work hard, stay patient, be flexible and make smart decisions. Most importantly, I want to continue to enjoy the ride 'cause, otherwise, what's the point?

Best wishes for a happy, healthy, fulfilling New Year and I'll catchya in '09!

~ Liz

December 29, 2008

Give (Back) and Ye Shall Receive

I'm back! I hope you had a very merry Christmas and happy Hanukkah. Sorry for the short hiatus, but I said I was going to unplug for a few days... I wasn't kidding. ;) Okay, so, I spent this AM and early PM volunteering (peeling + chopping veggies + packaging meals) at the West Harlem Community Kitchen, an extension of a local food bank. I decided if I was going to stay in NYC during the holidays, I should take advantage of the free time and give back to the community. Besides the obvious good karma and awesome feeling of selfless giving (particularly during this holiday time), I did it also to remind myself what it's like to be a volunteer. Our NY Int'l Latino Film Festival is so reliant upon its volunteers that, w/o them, there literally would be no festival. For those of you who have attended the festival, you definitely feel me because it's impossible to walk into any venue without having some sort of volunteer interaction. It's very easy (for me) to get caught up in the whirlwind of it all and forget how much work those 150+ volunteers are doing for us, not only during the actual event, but also during the weeks surrounding it. Would you believe some people actually use their precious vacation time to work with us? ASTOUNDING. It's actually almost overwhelming to me. I mean, I'm sorry, but it doesn't get more flattering or generous. That said, I feel strongly they have a positive experience with us. Based on our rate of return, I have to believe we're doing something right. But, you know, it's a constant, nagging concern I have: how do we continue to run this fast-growing festival efficiently and effectively, but also provide a meaningful, enjoyable takeaway for the staff and volunteers? I recognize this is Management 101, but it ain't easy and you'd be surprised how many folks in major positions of power can't manage their way out of a cardboard box. I firmly believe the downfall of many companies can be attributed to poor management. Trust me, I experienced it first-hand; it's not fun and it's not pretty. But, I learned very valuable lessons about how I want to treat others and how I want to be treated. At the very least, everyone, top to bottom, deserves respect. So, anyway, that's how I spent a good part of today and I'm scheduled to return on Friday afternoon. I feel good. You should too. So, I recommend you make doing some volunteer work an '09 resolution. I promise, you will gain as much, if not more, than what you contribute.

Side note: have you visited the new and improved Hello! As Gwen Stefani so aptly put it, "What'cha waiting for?".

~ Liz

December 23, 2008

Cinedulce 2.0 Esta Aqui!!

It’s almost the New Year…did you make your resolutions yet? We did and we’ve already started making those goals a reality. Check out the new and improved, with an updated video player and added functionality, including voting and user comments! Plus, now you can share your favorite Cinedulce film by emailing it to your friends or posting it on your social networking profile. This is one indulgence that won’t expand your waistline!

PLUS! Just in time for the holidays, we've added the following new content as our gift to you:

“Blondes are Latin Too”

Watch this tongue-in-cheek journey through the streets of NYC that asks the public and entertainment professionals: are Latinos fairly portrayed in Hollywood with regards to skin color and ethnic type? Directed by Jezabel Montero. Click here to watch!

New HBO Latino Content
HBO Latino has jam-packed our stockings with so much new content we can’t release it all at once. To start, check out new 5 new hilarious “Habla” spots plus 2 segments from their new “Road Trip” series and look for more new HBO Latino releases in the comings weeks and months. Also, check out the touching “Hispaniola”, winner of the 2007 NYILFF/HBO Short Film Contest.

A Look Back at the 2008 NYILFF
Relive your favorite moments from the 2008 NY Int’l Latino Film Festival with our brief video recap. Plus, watch our behind-the-scenes look at ’08 NYILFF/Kodak Gallery honoree Nely Galan’s experience at the festival. Get ready for next year… the NYILFF’s 10th anniversary!

Finally, I have to give huge props to our creative agency, Spoon + Fork. As a result of their hard work and RIDICULOUSLY GOOD creative, received a 2008 American Graphic Design Award! For more info on Spoon + Fork, check out I also have to give an extra special, super-duper, we could never-do-it-without-you shout-out to Lyndon.

CHECK OUT WWW.CINEDULCE.COM and treat yourself to some of the best in Latino and Urban film. Coming soon in 2009: more content and new channel introductions!

~ Liz

December 22, 2008

All Quiet on the Eastern Front

First off, for those of you (like I) who celebrate the Jewish holidays, Happy Hanukkah (Feliz Hanukkah?? LOL!). Second, it's a good thing I'm busy with the launch of Cinedulce 2.0, the forthcoming NYILFF call for entries (filmmakers, get ready!!) and writing the Latina Mag. agreement b/c it seems Corporate America is, understandably, sloooooowing down. During these next two weeks, I don't think all that many, if any, folks are interested in discussing July sponsorships nor Cinedulce biz dev. It's all about closing out 2008. In fact, from what I gather, most folks just took the entire two weeks off since the holidays this year fall mid-week. Okay, I'm down with that. Seasons greetings to all. But, this is where it's a bit peculiar to be your own boss in a start-up context. The thing is, I'm not taking vacation this year, which is totally fine, but it's sort of strange not to have that set vacation or a larger corporate directive dictating my holiday schedule. So, you know, when do I stop working? How do I allow myself the time off without feeling guilty (See? I told you I was Jewish! We're good with guilt.) Clearly, I'm a wee neurotic. I understand that. I embrace it. I think it takes a somewhat neurotic, Type A personality to forge your own professional path b/c it requires an extraordinary level of dedication, drive and resilience. Look at Reese Witherspoon: she's so comfortable with her Type A'ness that she named her production company, Type A Films. I think you'll agree it's worked out pretty well for Reese...The flip side is it's hard to allow yourself the break because it's not like there's some guaranteed salary paying for the days off. Plus, I'm smack in the middle of the fundraising season so I start to feel like I'm slacking or something. Of course, intellectually, I understand that's goofy b/c the people I am approaching for fundraising are all on vacation, so nothing can get done now anyway. But, emotionally, it's easy to forget that and just feel like a slacker. That said, over the years, I have improved a great deal at dealing with this issue. I recognize everyone deserves a break, time to smell the roses, so to speak, and recharge. I worked my fanny off this year and, quite frankly, I've earned at least a couple of days off. I mean, hey, I went to a late AM yoga class today... that's good, right?! ;) I'm going to have to think of some fun things to do during my precious time off. Maybe I'll go ice skating? And take a day ski trip with my bro? Go see the Gilbert and George exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum with Jamie? See some live music? Do lots of yoga? Catch up on some movies? Check out the pretty department store holiday windows? Sleep? Yeah, I could get used to this...
~ Liz

December 19, 2008

Time to Unplug and Recharge

Just when I think things are slowing down for the holidays, I find myself totally swamped with work on the Friday before Christmas week. What's up with that? Perhaps, just perhaps, it has something to do with the fact I spent 2+ hours yesterday afternoon and another 1.5 hours today on the phone with RIM and AT&T figuring out why my Crackberry spontaneously stopped receiving both emails (data/RIM) and text (telephony/AT&T) messages. You've got to be kidding me! To the hate list it went. The good news is I stayed super calm, which is un milagro b/c these things tend to drive me bananas. If this happened during fest prep, like say June, it would've taken all of my energy to prevent a full-on coronary. Who has the time or patience to sit on the phone for almost 4 hours to get a PDA working - a PDA, which, I might add, was working perfectly fine just 36 hours ago?? On top of that, I had to go into our email server and delete 6,200 emails because that overwhelms the device - too many for it to scan. Yep, that's what I did last night while watching Ace of Cakes (don't even try to pretend you don't love that show and Duff's not the man because you totally do and he totally is) - delete by hand 6,200 emails because our server apparently has no Delete All function. Awesome. To top it off, this whole fiasco forced me to miss my friends' script reading. So, Gary & Juan: I'M SO SORRY! But, now you know what I was doing instead of watching your actors read what I'm certain is your awesome film to-be. Now that my Curve is back in business, it's back on my love list. This whole process, however, made me realize how completely and utterly absurd we all are. I am so addicted to immediate communication that I bring my Blackberry to pick up my dry cleaning, which is literally around the corner from my apartment. Hey, you never know what random, trivial messages may require immediate, urgent attention! What that's you say?? Andy Samberg's hilarious new SNL video ("Jizz in MY Pants") is now on YouTube? I must check that out RIGHT NOW because, you know, it was emailed to me so it MUST be vital. Ridonculous. My recommendation during this holiday season is this: try to unplug your devices and, instead, recharge your own battery.
~ Liz

December 18, 2008

Liz Loves Latina

This AM, I had a meeting with Latina Magazine (yes, some people are actually still working and taking meetings!). And, guess what?? They're back in as the magazine partner for the NY Int'l Latino Film Festival! Woo-hoo! Nothing like last-minute good news at year's end. Plus, we're discussing a few cool potential partnership ideas for Cinedulce, including a long-term concept which is super-groovy (ahem, cough, cough, thank you very much). Basically, they would sell this content-based concept to their advertisers and rev-share with Cinedulce. Beautiful. The timing couldn't be better for something like this, especially in light of today's Business Week article, entitled "Online Marketers Wooing Minorities". Basically, it says Latinos, African-Americans and Asians are the shizzle online and finally! Corporate America has taken note and is spending more media and marketing dollars against those audiences. Hispanics (after African-Americans) are the 2nd fastest-growing online population and have a 79% penetration rate. Jiminy Cricket, that's good news!
~ Liz

December 17, 2008

Help is on the way!

I just returned from meeting with this great woman, Allison, a Texas transport, who's one of those people who's clearly a mover and shaker. You know when you meet someone like that? She just oozes that get-shit-done kind of quality I love. Affable. High energy. Lots of contacts. Good charisma. Gets it. As luck would have it - that's exactly what I need...someone who gets it. Trust me, it's harder to find than you think. So, this afternoon, I'll send her various proposals for the NY Int'l Latino Film Festival and Cinedulce so she can brainstorm a bit about who she knows and the various ways she can contribute. First and foremost, I could use some sponsorship support for the festival. Second, I'd like to see how she can help with Cinedulce partnerships - strategic, sponsor or otherwise. After all of these years, I recognize I now cast a very wide net, but there are always more contacts, more companies and many more potential relationships that exist outside of my database and sphere of influence. New introductions and open doors, directly or indirectly, frequently lead to interesting, unexpected opportunities. Any successful entrepreneur will tell you a key to his/her success is the ability to remain open and receptive to new ideas and approaches, and the willingness to adapt and evolve the original vision to changing cues in the marketplace and specific opportunities that arise along the way. Eventually, the venture takes on a life of its own; either you maintain flexibility and bend as needed, or remain stiff and break. So, let's see where Allison's new doors lead...
~ Liz

December 16, 2008

SNAA: Social Networking Addicts Anonymous

Recognizing you have a problem is the first step, right? Well, I think I may have a problem... I have a potential addiction to social networking. Here's the thing: I'm a huge believer in grassroots online marketing and, these days, that must include social networking. We have company profiles for the NY Int'l Latino Film Festival and/or Cinedulce on Facebook, MySpace, MiGente, YouTube and BlackPlanet (new/under construction). Additionally, I have my personal profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn. Recently, I discovered the 'groups' option on LinkedIn. Let me just say, that was quite a big day for me. I joined all sorts of entertainment, media, film festival and sponsorship groups and have already posted an item about the NY Int'l Latino Film Festival seeking sponsors for the 10th anniversary. The true test, of course, will be to see what, if any, kind of response I receive. In the meantime, it just feels entirely, wholly, downright efficient. Anyone who knows me, knows I love efficiency. So, basically, this gives me a nice, warm feeling in my belly. One little post and - bam! - mass exposure. I start pondering: who else can I find? How else can I promote my businesses? What other links can I make? Stop the insanity! Once I started poking around my groups, I saw a ton of people I know, including festival staff members. I also have folks now coming out of the woodwork to reintroduce themselves from what seems like lifetimes ago. Surreal. It's like experiencing "This is Your (Professional) Life" on a regular basis. This just makes me reiterate, yet again, that hard-and-fast biz rule: avoid burning bridges because you JUST NEVER KNOW when someone will reemerge. This leads me to the flip side of social networking: the virtual loss of anonymity and privacy. Those who want to find you, can. That sounds a bit more ominous than intended. My point is you may not want everyone from your past entering your present and sharing in your future. Sometimes, the past should stay in the past...

Hi. My name is Liz and I am a social networking addict.

~ Liz

December 15, 2008

Operations...oh joy

Sometimes being your own boss is a pain in the rear. Generally speaking, it's any time you have to deal with operations, which, quite frankly, is pretty often. This would be one of those times. I'm evaluating my health insurance situation to decide if I want to change to a different plan. I only have about a week window to make the decision so I'm sitting here comparing/contrasting the options. It's annoying, but, in this economy (much less any economy), if I can save a few bucks on insurance and still feel confident with my coverage - I gotta do it. In fact, I'd be a bit of a bonehead not to evaluate the options. So, uh yeah, that's exciting stuff.

On a more interesting tip, I just completed the text for the Cinedulce newsletter we're sending out later this week. If I told you what I wrote, that would kind of kill the surprise, don't ya think? Suffice it to say, I'm super psyched about this week's announcements/releases. Plus, the following newsletters have equally cool updates. So, get excited!

~ Liz

December 12, 2008

Ode to Heineken

Oh, Heineken, Heineken,
how irresistible I find you.
Delivering that familiar
Most tasty, chilled brew.

Your shiny green packaging
with star in red,
if poured on an angle
produces no head.

To White Plains I went with hopes of a yes,
That your plans include us
The NY Latino Film Fest
The fest that's the best!

A video or two,
An '08 recap to review,
I presented my materials
of what we plan to do.

We chatted, we joked,
We had a good time.
But, most importantly, we talked,
If the sponsorship is mine.

No hemming, no hawing,
you asked where to sign.
Yes, Liz, we're back
we want in for '09!

I giggled, we hugged,
I couldn't believe it.
Heiny's in, the 4th year...
Oh my God, Holy S**t!

So, Latino film fans get excited

For DR Night next year,
'cause Heineken has returned
As the NYILFF's official beer!

Thank you P & A! Happy Holidays and New Year!

~ Liz

December 11, 2008


December is always a wacky month for me. The thing is, since September (yes, just 1 month after the '08 NY Int'l Latino Film Fest), I've been talking to tons of potential new sponsors and following up with '08 partners about returning in '09. Sponsorship is sort of an ongoing process. It's hard to explain, but if you're an annual event, it's just a constant process of making new contacts, expanding your reach and pitching opportunities. In December, however, things tend to slow down a bit because companies are focusing on finalizing '09 budgets and plans, overseeing holiday promotions and closing out the current year. So, I find if a decision isn't made by early-mid December, it likely won't be made until after the new year. That's all fine and well except that means I head into January with an opaque view of the year ahead and that gives me the itchy-scratchies. It's bizarre because I've been doing this for so long, you'd think I'd be used to it by now... every year, same story. And, to some extent, I am. I mean, I'm always able to find the zen in this process and remain positive and strong. But, this year is more challenging because it's unclear how the economy is going to affect us. I've already heard from a few companies their budgets are WAY down, but, that's to be expected. I don't need every company on the planet to partner with us...though, that'd be kinda cool, wouldn't it?? So much for category exclusivity.;) I just need a handful of great ones and some lower-tier 'fillers', like we've had for the past several years. This is also why I'm super-psyched Nancy is putting together an updated budget, cash flow, balance sheet, etc. so we keep a critical, pragmatic eye on finances and what is and is not viable in '09. And, that's just the festival. With Cinedulce, I'm hoping distributors (e.g., Time Warner Cable, Comcast, telecom, etc.) will still actively seek new programming to fill the pipeline, and, on the flip side, advertisers still spend on non-traditional marketing. Only time will tell...
Speaking of great partners, I have a meeting tomorrow AM with my friends at Heineken. Fingers crossed!
~ Liz

December 10, 2008

"Nothing Like the Holidays" Opens This Weekend!

To all who attended our packed sneak-peek of "Nothing Like the Holidays", thank you! The film OPENS this Friday, December 12! I know you know how important opening weekend is, so let's represent! Here's the thing: if we don't support these pictures, Hollywood will think there's no market (which we all KNOW is a ridorculous notion!) and, as a result, stop investing in stories by/about/for the Latino community. Here's what I think is bizarre about that: "Nothing Like the Holidays" is a straight-up family film. It was not made solely for the Latino community, but rather for all to enjoy (a.k.a. it's intended to be a "cross-over"). I actually know that for a fact b/c I'm friends with the producers at State Street Pictures. There is no reason why films such as this should be viewed as any different than, let's say, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", "Bend It Like Beckham" or "Soul Food", which, coincidentally, was produced by the same guys at State Street Pictures. These are all stories about family, emotions, relationships, life; they are "universal" stories set in a particular social, religious and/or cultural context. This weekend, I saw "Slumdog Millionaire", which is an insanely good film set in Mumbai, India. It's directed by Danny Boyle ("Trainspotting", "28 Days Later"), a prominent English director. Neither the director nor I am Indian and yet we both connected to this story (uh, clearly, he a bit more than I, but you get the point). Why is this different? A good film is a good film, regardless of its context. In fact, I think it's the context that adds the richness, the layers, the interest. Boiled down, film is just fancy storytelling. If you have a good story and you know how to relay it to me in a compelling way, I'm in. And, you know what? Everyone else is, too.

Now that you've endured my rant ;)... please tell your friends, spread the word and, of course, go see the movie! Plus, Luis Guzman delivers an HILARIOUS performance. Check out "
Nothing Like the Holidays" THIS WEEKEND and drive that opening weekend box office!

Release Date: December 12!!
Directed by: Alfredo de Villa
Cast: Freddy Rodriguez
John Leguizamo
Debra Messing
Alfred Molina
Jay Hernandez
Melonie Diaz
Vanessa Ferlito
Luis Guzman
Elizabeth Peña

It's Christmas and the far-flung members of the Rodriguez family are converging at their parents' home in Chicago to celebrate the season and rejoice in their youngest brother's safe return from combat overseas. But when old disputes resurface and new surprises arise, familial bonds are stretched to the limit and the Rodriguezes realize they're going to have to pull together to make it through the holidays in one piece. Humboldt Park is a hilarious and heartwarming look at a holiday one family will never forget.

~ Liz

December 9, 2008

Sponsorship 101, Part 3: The Proposal

I just spent a bit of time helping a friend who's interviewing for a sweet job in cable (ironic in light of yesterday's blog). After a successful first interview, she was given an assignment to write a proposal for a specific Hollywood film tie-in; so, we were chatting about her concept, which is great, and, more specifically, the actual deck (proposal). She happens to be fantastic at what she does, but I've discovered most people really don't know how to write a deck successfully and effectively. So, our convo inspired me to share 10 quick pointers I've learned along the way:

1. Clearly map out your pitch before you begin to write. Otherwise, you'll find yourself writing in circles. Trust me, I've done it too many times to count. Massive waste of time and effort.

2. Keep it short and sweet. As one friend once told me, "small words, big font". This isn't an essay for English class and your vocabulary is not being graded. Just relay your message as clearly and concisely as possible.

3. Bullet points are your friend; paragraphs are not. You should be able to boil each key idea into a simple bullet-pointed phrase. Remove all superfluous language and cut to the chase.

4. Identify your key point(s) of difference, highlight it/them with consistency and repetition. Basically, hammer it home and make it idiot-proof (Calixto's favorite phrase). For example, in our case, the NY Int'l Latino Film Festival is the #1 U.S. Latino film festival and the only one that speaks to the hip, Urban + Latino lifestyle. That's our fundamental selling proposition. Once you really understand what it is you're selling, you can articulate it. Remember: Be consistent, be repetitive.

5. Put the client opportunity on the first card after the title card. The rest of the proposal serves as support and details. These folks receive TONS of proposals. Don't be cute and tease them. Cut to the chase. If you don't, they may not read past page 2.

6. Understand the difference between goals, strategies and tactics. Goals are easiest to determine: what is the overarching objective of the client (i.e., drive sales, drive brand awareness, drive retail traffic, etc.)? Your mission is to understand the needs of that client and provide solutions to fulfill those needs. Differentiating between a strategy and a tactic can be a bit more challenging. A strategy is the general approach you employ to fulfill the goal, and tactics are the specific mechanisms to realize the strategy. For example, a strategy can be to discover and support emerging filmmakers; one tactic could be to conduct a filmmaker contest. So, basically, each level digs deeper into the thought process. There can be multiple strategies and multiple tactics, but they should all fulfill the goal(s). Be consistent, be repetitive.

7. Load the program with as many promotional layers as possible. Consider all potential media and touch-points (e.g., internet, events, contests/sweeps, grassroots/guerrilla, traditional media, 3rd party tie-ins, public relations, retail/employee incentives, cause-related overlays, etc.). Challenge yourself: how rich can you make this platform? In all likelihood, the client will cut much of it ($$$), but the more information you can provide upfront, the easier you make his/her decision.

8. Remember aesthetics: you don't have to employ a creative team, but make sure the presentation is professional, attractive and reflects the vibe and positioning of your opportunity and brand. Also, check your spelling and grammar!

9. Do your homework. Know your competitors and get the research to back up your statements. In my case, I have to show the buying power, growth potential and media consumption habits of my audience b/c access to that audience is a key selling point.

10. Be passionate.
Folks invest in people, not companies; it may be cliche, but it's true. Let that passion show through your proposal and all communication.

~ Liz

December 8, 2008

Our Time

Okay, I'm a bit frustrated right now because I'm trying to watch this movie we're considering for Opening Night at the 2009 NY Int'l Latino Film Festival, but I can't get the darn thing to play. Neither my DVD player nor Mac can get it rolling. I think the DVD is corrupt or something. Argh!

That bit of venting aside, a friend took me to this holiday party on Saturday night at a fantastic UWS apartment - super beautiful. The host works at a basic cable network, so there were lots of TV and media folks there. The talk of the party? The economy. More specifically, what's happening in media as a result of the recession. If you haven't read, most major media companies, including V
iacom, NBC/Universal, CBS and ABC, have already had or are rumored to be planning major layoffs. And, Yahoo! is predicted to cut 1,500 - 2,000 employees any day. One network guy I met was just let go as part of an entire division elimination. A marketing executive at another cable network has been given just 25% of her usual operating budget so she feels somewhat paralyzed in terms of planning for 2009; how is she supposed to get anything done without a real budget? It's really insane and, obviously, pretty scary. I did, however, meet one guy who's interested in discussing potential partnership opportunities with Cinedulce and, also, maybe the festival; he's in acquisitions and programming at a major video viewing site (jackpot!). I sent him a follow-up email this AM, so let's see if he responds. Fingers crossed. All I can do is keep pushing and hope Corporate America realizes two key factors: 1. film and media viewership tend to see an uptick during hard economic times because it's a relatively inexpensive form of escapism; and, 2. creativity flourishes during hard times because, inherently, art is a form of personal expression and social commentary... heightened emotions, observation and reflection = greater compulsion for artistic expression. Some of the most challenging economic and social periods have inspired some of the most creatively significant periods. Please! Charles Dickens would have had nothing to write about if not for London's rampant poverty and social inequity! ;) So, I'm hoping Corporate America realizes this is the perfect time to align their brands with storytellers: professional, amateur and/or even 'armchair directors'. This is the time to be cool, to get 'it', and connect on a more personal level. This is the time for inspiration and vision. And, this is also the time to seek efficient solutions for maintaining through the pipeline a steady flow of new, relevant, high quality content. This is our time.
~ Liz

December 5, 2008

Amen, Gracias and Shalom!

So, I just wrapped a long meeting with my good friend and festival staff member, Nancy, who has generously offered to build some financial spreadsheets for the NY Int'l Latino Film Festival. THANK GOD (a.k.a. Nancy)! I mean, I think I've done a decent job of organizing and maintaining our budget, Quickbooks files and general finances, but, come on, I'm neither an accountant nor bookkeeper. And, quite frankly, I have no desire to be either. Obviously, we have an accountant who handles all tax-related matters, but, beyond that, it's all me. Riiight... Needless to say, I sure am grateful for my girl, Nancy, who gets all giggly thinking about designing spreadsheets. Now, finally, finally!, we will have the big three docs: income statement, cash flow analysis and balance sheet. Yipee! This may not be all that exciting to you, I realize, but let me tell you, it sets my heart aflutter. I continue to learn the terminology and principles of accounting, but I've learned a ton in the past 12-18 months (thank you Professor Herb!!) and the most important lesson I've absorbed is you really can't properly run, much less grow, a business without these fundamental financial analyses. It's like...once you learn how to read and implement these documents, you can't go backwards; more importantly, you don't want to go backwards because they provide a sense of liberation, organization and comfort. It's all in the numbers. Your whole business is right there before your eyes: where you've been, where you are and where you're going; what are doing right, what could you improve, where are you realizing efficiencies and where could you be more creative? I can't believe it, but I actually really dig it. It's just cool. It's magic, I tell you. It's like the Kabbalah of business. And so, to Nancy, I say: Amen, Gracias and Shalom!
~ Liz

December 4, 2008


Our Entrepreneur Magazine piece came out in this month's (December) issue and it's awesome! Holy smokes, the journalist, David Worrell, did us a HUGE solid. I mean, it's really super. I don't so much love the picture, but that's my fault. Live and learn...and use your stylist for everything. ;) What's most important, however, is the text and it's honestly really fantastic: Cinedulce's first real media coverage! We got ink: woo-hoo! I totally have to thank one of our publicists, Gabrielle Bernstein, for hooking us up with David and making this happen. Hopefully, it will lead to some interesting connections. If not, at least we can now say we were in Entrepreneur Magazine. That's pretty cool, right?

On a different tip, last night's tree lighting event at NBC was super lovely. We ended up chatting up the general manager of New York's Telemundo (Channel 47) and tossed around some ideas about how we can activate a bit more at the 2009 NYILFF. Plus, I told him about some recent media meetings I've had that indirectly relate to him and he liked the direction we're going. So, that's cool. We shall see where that takes us...

And, even more random - tonight, I'm going to see Billy Elliot on B'way. It's supposed to be awesome, so I'm psyched. Plus, what a great example of an entertainment property that successfully migrated from one medium (film: 2000) to another (novel: 2001) to yet another (theater: 2005, West End; 2008, B'way). More interestingly, Stephen Daldry directed both the film and musical. Now, THAT's impressive. In case you don't know Stephen's work, he also directed "The Hours" and "The Reader", and is in production on the screen adaptation of one of my favorite books of all time, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Awesome.

~ Liz

December 3, 2008

Perks - Ain't They Grand?

On occasion, I get to enjoy a perk or two from working off my booty to ensure our sundry sponsors and partners are happy. For example, our good friends at American Airlines invited us this year to Bette Midler's INSANE Halloween benefit for her non-profit NY Restoration Project, which, by the way is a super cool organization; check it out: She actually just completed a park with 50 Cent. I dunno, that just makes me laugh: Bette and "Fitty". Oh, and mark. (division of Avon) sent me a FABULOUS bag overflowing with all sorts of cosmetics and costume jewelry. That was pretty awesome. Regardless, tonight, we have another fun event that's a perk of partnership: NBC & Telemundo invited Calixto and me to their annual treelighting ceremony. Okay, I'll admit - meeting the Jonas Brothers isn't high on my list, but it's a really fun event that's pretty much as festive as it gets. When they count down to the actual lighting, everyone inside goes out to watch from the skating rink (yes, they obviously cover the ice). It's just really beautiful, really cheery (dare I say jolly??) and a quintessential New York moment. Plus, last year I ran into NBC sportscaster Bruce Beck, whom I know from back in the day when I worked for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (loooooong time ago) - super funny reminiscing with him. When we were there, it was getting banned across the country, we were forced to move the pay-per-view live event from Denver to Casper, Wyoming and John McCain made it the target of his senatorial re-election platform: family values. LOL. Now? Please! It's on basic cable (Spike) and makes money hand-over-fist. Who woulda' thunk?? That aside, it's lovely when our partners remember us during these times, especially since we work so hard to make them happy during the event. Plus, it's a good opportunity to chat casually with our folks over there and see what's happening for next year. I just pray we survive the budget cuts that are happening across the board. In the meantime, heck yeah, I'll have a drink on NBC. Cheers!
~ Liz

December 2, 2008

The Dance

I had a meeting today with a competitor to one of my longstanding sponsors. It's sort of an odd feeling - like betrayal or cheating - to pitch a competing brand, especially when you have a strong relationship with the original brand. In fact, I believe our partners are returning. But, the flip side is there are a fair bit of internal changes and reorgs. going on inside the company and I don't want to be caught by surprise. That's never a good thing. It happened to me once before and, let me tell you, it wasn't pretty. I once had a major company confirm its return as the festival's official automotive partner for a 2nd year. Awesome! So, I was waiting for the contract...and waiting...and following up...and waiting...and following up...and...finally, I received the dreaded call: all sponsorships - national and local - were canceled due to poor year-end sales. WHAT?? I found out towards the end of Q1 of that year, waaaayyyy to late to approach competitors. So, that was it. We had to suck it up and move on. Since I had received their confirmation of participation, I'm not sure what more I could have done. But, I still felt I learned a lesson: you don't have the deal until the ink is dry (or, as my family likes to say, you don't have a fish until it's in the boat). I love that saying. Okay, so, back to the situation at hand. I think (hope!) we're fine with our longstanding partner, whom I love, but I just want to be proactive and cover all bases. Plus, I pitched them a cool Cinedulce idea, which we're putting together in partnership with Remezcla. Soooo...even if the festival doesn't work out with this competitor (due to the return of our existing partner), we have a second, non-compete opportunity for their consideration. It's like a little dance between the two competitors and me. This leads me to a belief I've mentioned in prior blogs: whenever possible, never put all of your eggs in one basket because you JUST NEVER KNOW what's going on behind conference room doors.
~ Liz

December 1, 2008

Mike and Priorities and Me...Oh My!


My friend, Mike, is part of this comedy troupe, Room 28 ( -- really funny, really talented guys. In fact, we like them so much we asked them to rewrite the script for the 2008 NY Int'l Latino Film Festival commercial. The result was hilarious. If you've never seen it (, the premise is the somewhat ludicrous film pitches development executives have to endure. Our POV is of the executive, so you just see this succession of ridiculous characters and pitches. It's cast and edited beautifully. I'm telling you, it's funny stuff. Mike has also always been a very good friend of/to the festival - he's worked with us for years on marketing and grassroots outreach. He and I were chatting this afternoon about his desire to help with next year's festival. The issue always becomes time and priorities. In addition to a full-time job, Mike also always has a million projects in the works, including producing Room 28 shows and short films. So, here's the point: Mike offered to meet with me every few weeks next year to bounce around ideas, trade contacts, etc. In theory, it's a lovely, very generous offer. In reality, however, it becomes a waste of my valuable time because my biggest challenge is not idea generation: it's execution. We can dream up ideas 'til we're both blue in the face, but if there's no one to get the work done, it's not only irrelevant, it's useless and unproductive. Again, it's about priorities. At that time, my priority has to be on the bigger picture: managing our various partners (I just sent the recap video to
44! 2008 NYILFF sponsor contacts), overseeing production, creative and media, and running the event, itself. I'm not suggesting this isn't important stuff, because I'm a huge believer in the power of grassroots marketing. I'm just saying, at a certain point, I can't be the one to do it all...especially when you consider this is just the festival I'm discussing, here. The REALLY big picture, of course, is Cinedulce and the relationship between the festival and Cinedulce. The obvious solution is to hire a marketing director for the festival. Duh. The issue? $. That is just one example of a job I'd love to fill but we first need to be sure we have the funds to add the position to our already growing staff list. Last year, we had roughly 30 staff members and 150 volunteers. Another solution? Interns -- AKA God's gift to the NYILFF and Cinedulce. Our current intern, Michele, is a rockstar and is already handling a bunch of online grassroots marketing. Maybe we bring on a partner for her and, together, they knock it out? We shall see. These are the issues we find ourselves facing on a daily basis. How do you get everything done - and, more importantly, done well - within the confines of a limited budget (especially, in this economy, which, apparently, was just officially declared in a recession)?? Creativity. Resourcefulness. Prioritization. More on this another time...

In the meantime, check out Mike and the Room 28 gang this Saturday, 12/13, for their LIVE Christmas sketch show, including performances by Tweaponz and Pattydukes & Rephstar (both of whom were also in our commercial!): La Pregunta Cafe (1528 Amsterdam between 135th and 136th Streets). Doors open at 7pm. You must RSVP at by December 11th. You can also watch them live on
Two lucky online viewers will receive $100 dollar gift certificates and an mp3 player. Good stuff!

~ Liz

November 26, 2008

Food for Thought

It's the day before Thanksgiving and, if I'm not mistaken, it's the #1 travel day in the U.S. So, first off, I'm thankful I don't have to travel today. Dealing with the frantic crowds just isn't my cup of tea. I'm going to my parents' house tomorrow, where I'll immediately throw on an apron and join my mom in the kitchen. So much for taking the day off and being a couch potato! I'm also amazingly thankful for the opportunity to work with dear friends to try to build our two businesses: The NY International Latino Film Festival & Cinedulce. Calixto, Lyndon and I just got out of a 'working' holiday lunch that lasted for literally 3+ hours. We have so much going on - I can't spill the beans, but, in a nutshell, we're crazy busy. Success is a hard nut to crack, so you never want to put all of your eggs in one basket. Despite the challenges, uncertainties, financial pressures and general stresses associated with entrepreneurialism, I wouldn't trade my career choice for anything. Some people may think I'm nutty as a fruitcake, but the experience has provided me a great feeling of empowerment, pride and satisfaction. I mean, we're taking our careers in our own hands, using our noodles and trying to make something unique and exciting happen because no one is going to hand us success on a silver platter. Obviously, it's no piece of cake; you can only try your hardest and hope, at some point, you find your gravy train. As the saying goes, you never regret what you do, only what you don't. I'm thankful for what I am doing; hopefully, I won't have to eat my words.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones and, remember, you can have your cake and eat it too!
~ Liz

November 25, 2008


I just got back from a super-duper meeting with the veep of multicultural and segment marketing for the entertainment division of one of the major media conglomerates. It was one of those meetings where you enter the room with one partnership model in mind and exit with a totally different approach -- one that, if it all comes together, may prove to be more beneficial in the long run. The strategy is consistent with how I believe we can work with media co's; it just didn't occur to me it might apply to this guy, whom Calixto and I first met earlier this year at the NALIP (Nat'l Assoc. Latino Independent Producers) conference in Cali. Then, at the NYC Latino Convergence Conf., I reconnected with his publicist, whom I already knew, and another major marketing exec from the same company. They both recommended I reach back out to him b/c his division is evolving in a direction that is complementary to Cinedulce. That just goes to show how long these things can take and how convoluted the process can be. It's all about networking and opening your mouth - you need to communicate what you're doing to everyone b/c you just never know where there may be a connection. Don't ever assume anything b/c, again, you don't know what's being discussed behind conference room doors. Moreover, seeking partnerships of any kind - promotional, sponsorship, strategic, investment - is a long-term proposition that requires an almost unbearable level of patience and persistence. It took me literally 3+ years of pestering to land Verizon as a sponsor of the NYILFF - 3 years! That's not nothin', kids. Of course, right when I gave up is when they called me and said they wanted in. Figures... And, since partnerships are key to the success of any business - large or small - it helps explain why the process of starting a business is such an extensive, unpredictable, topsy-turvy, wavy-gravy, rollercoaster of a journey. You just need to hold on tight to your vision, integrity and confidence and believe in your heart you have an idea with value and the resources to make it happen.

November 24, 2008

Write, Call, Write, Call...

Today is one of those days where I literally sit at my desk all day, getting up exclusively to grab some food (yes, I made a salad for lunch) and take care of personal business. ;) I have so much writing to do and so many calls to make that I just need to sit here and bust it all out. It's bizarre how varied my days can be, from Thursday's near-chaotic meeting schedule (controlled chaos, of course!) to a day like today, where I calmly but intensely pass the time at my desk. Oh! This AM, I checked out the almost-final cut of our 2008 NY Int'l Latino Film Festival video recap; as usual, Lyndon is genius. It's so super-fastastic! What sponsor could say no to us after seeing this?? No one, I tell you, no one! That's just silly talk. Just a few more minor tweaks and we're good to go. Can you believe I'm still working on recapping 2008, but have been working on 2009 for 2+ months? Bienvenido a mi mundo. AND, I scheduled a dinner for next week with a good friend who works at a major agency and is trying to push through both the NYILFF and Cinedulce to two of his major multicultural clients (hint: one is a credit card and the other an insurance co.). Talk to me... Random side note: "Feliz Navidad" is currently playing on the radio. How funny and cute is this song? Cracks me up every time. But, I do wonder how the hell it got to be the holiday season already. Time flies...
~ Liz

November 21, 2008

Insane Day Recap

Moving forward, remind me not to book back-to-back-to-back meetings in any given day. Literally insanity. That said, I had GREAT meetings. Yahoo! The HBO part dos meeting was excellent. We spent most of the time talking about that event opportunity we're debating and recent updates on Cinedulce. They're just really supportive and, yesterday in particular, gave some very interesting recommendations. So, that was great. Then, Time Warner Cable was also really encouraging. They seem to get the whole Cinedulce concept. Because we are an upstart, there are some complications we'll have to work through, but they seem interested in doing so...which is ridiculous! I mean, this is Time Warner Cable we're talking about. I literally don't think they've ever dealt with a company like ours before. The programming group traditionally works with this one major aggregator or the major studios and cable networks, such as HBO and Showtime. So, for them even to meet with me much less seriously consider working with us is mind-blowing to me. After that, I met with a good friend at a top Latino agency. These guys are doing some of the best work out there for some of the biggest clients. We spent a good 2 hours discussing potential partnerships between some of their clients and both the festival and Cinedulce. All good stuff. Needless to say, I now have a bunch of recaps and, what else??, PROPOSALS to write. I'm telling you, the day I can have someone else write a proposal or two will be a satisfying one. That aside, I would never complain about proposals - especially those that result from meetings - b/c it's a good sign. So, keep the proposals rollin'...
~ Liz

November 20, 2008

Total Insanity

Today is ridiculously over-scheduled so I'm literally going to be out of the office all day with meetings. Deep breath... I have part dos of my meeting with HBO b/c we didn't get to finish on Tuesday; then I have a big one with Time Warner Cable (fingers crossed!) re:a potential Cinedulce VOD partnership, followed by another big one with a Latino agency re:Cinedulce. THEN, if I have time to run to the office and catch up for a bit, I will. If not, I need to head straight to the Union Square Stadium 14 theater to check on tonight's sneak-peek screening of "Nothing Like the Holidays", which is totally booked (in fact, it's over-booked, which is a good thing b/c there's always a % drop-off rate). THEN, my friend's husband, who's an incredibly talented photographer, has some of his work featured in a gallery show that's opening tonight. I have to support mi amigo. Ay dios mio! What a day. Wish me luck!
~ Liz

November 19, 2008

Getting closer to decisions, decisions...

We had a follow-up call this afternoon with the two board directors of that event I mentioned on Monday. As a reminder, this is the established event with the long history and strong brand equity but also a fair bit of not-so-great baggage; they have offered us the opportunity to take over the board and own the event, which is structured as a not-for-profit. Interesting convo. They (these 2 board directors) feel it should be scaled back to a much greater degree than I expected (major relief!) - MUCH more manageable and viable. Essentially, they feel the current programming schedule should be more than halved, including reducing the number of theaters from 6 to 3. Considering each of those theaters is located in a different local market within one umbrella region, let us all now say, "Amen!". It's current format is WAAAAYYYY too sprawling. The new concept we're kicking around is to 'travel' the identical mini-festival (10-15 films) to the three most relevant local markets over the course of 3 successive weekends. I still believe we need to take a 2009 hiatus b/c it's just too late to start sponsorship for a second event and I literally don't think I have the time to deal with it. Plus, there is a ton that needs to be massaged, reviewed, reorganized, restructured, etc. before we can even consider fundraising. And, even if I could slide it in under the sponsor radar now, it most certainly will be a challenge if we wait for what I anticipate will be at least 2 months during this development period. Looking forward, it seems unrealistic and somewhat foolish to try to make this happen next year. If we proceed with this opportunity, however, we believe the way to try to maintain a degree of continuity and buzz is to issue a press release announcing our take-over. We may also consider a single screening event in the fall '09 to formally introduce ourselves in that market and keep the momentum humming. It's auspicious timing because 2009 is the NY Int'l Latino Film Festival's 10th anniversary. If all goes well, we may have a roll-out of press releases, including Cinedulce, which we've never formally announced, the DVD release(s), potentially this new event, a strategic partnership with a prod. company (more on that another time) and, of course, the usual set of festival-related releases (i.e., call for entries, HBO contest call for entries, sponsor line-up, programming line-up, etc.). One would hope this onslaught will catch the eye of some major local and national outlets, which, of course, continues to drive the profile of the organization. Anyway, next steps are I need to write the recap (what else is new?) and they need to send us some detailed info we requested, including financials from previous years, so we have a better sense of what's happening. One fairly big outstanding issue is how we're going to pay for the few visits we'll definitely have to make. They feel there should be limited net assets after 2009, but we don't yet know that number and it also may have to be applied to local overhead expenses. The deliberations continue...
~ Liz

November 18, 2008



Overture Films & the New York International Latino Film Festival invite you to a special advance screening of Alfredo De Villa’s new star-studded film, “Nothing Like the Holidays”.

Thursday, November 20
7:30 p.m.
Regal Union Square Stadium 14
(850 Broadway, New York, NY 10003)

On December 12, Overture Films will proudly present NOTHING LIKE THE HOLIDAYS, an endearing Holiday comedy for the entire family. If there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that family time isn’t always a walk in the park. In Nothing Like the Holidays, two of today’s most talented actors, John Leguizamo (The Happening, The Take) and Freddy Rodriguez (“Six Feet Under,” Bobby), join Debra Messing (“Will & Grace,” “The Starter Wife”), Jay Hernandez (Quarantine, Friday Night Lights), Alfred Molina (The Da Vinci Code, Spider-Man 2), and director Alfredo de Villa (the award-winning Washington Heights) to tell the humorous and heartwarming story of one unforgettable family holiday.

It’s Christmastime and the far-flung members of the Rodriguez family are converging at their parents’ home in Chicago to celebrate the season and rejoice in their youngest brother’s safe return from combat overseas. For Jesse (Freddy Rodriguez), coming home has rekindled feelings for an old flame, although she can’t seem to forgive him for leaving. His older sister Roxanna, a struggling actress, has been chasing her Hollywood dreams for years with little to show for it. And much to the dismay of their mother Anna (Elizabeth Peña), eldest brother Mauricio (John Leguizamo) brings home a high-powered executive wife (Debra Messing) who would rather raise capital than a child.

RSVP is mandatory by emailing Jenifer Golden at ( ) by no later than Tuesday, November 18. Please include your full name and contact info in the email, as well as whether you’ll be attending with a guest (guest’s name not required). This invitation does not guarantee seating as admission will be handled on a first come, first served basis. The theater is overbooked to ensure capacity. All attendees are encouraged to arrive early (30 minutes prior).

For more information on NOTHING LIKE THE HOLIDAYS, please visit


~ Liz

November 17, 2008

Decisions, Decisions...

An interesting opportunity came our way last week and, I tell you, it's not an easy decision. A Latino film event in another city has asked us to take over its organization. At first glance, that's an insanely great (and flattering) offer. But, like everything in business (and life), it's not as simple as it sounds, i.e., how do their financials look? What is the status of key staff members? Are there any multi-year sponsorships that are still in play? What is the general sponsor/partner feedback (we've heard not great)? If we take off a year for rebuilding, will that make their brand less relevant and diminish its equity? How difficult will it be for us to run this from NYC, even though there will be a local director with support staff and volunteers? And, that's just the beginning. Moreover, we need to make this decision with a degree of haste b/c the org. is incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit, so, for legal and tax purposes, they must opt to dissolve or move forward b/f 12/31/08. Ay dios - the pressure! It's difficult to turn down an offer that falls in your lap and is part of your longer-term strategy, i.e., this will further cement us as the Latino film organization. It also even further expands our filmmaker database (particularly internationally) and provides us the opportunity to bundle sponsorship with dual market programming. The flip side: we need to stay focused on the bigger picture of growing NYC and building Cinedulce. This may be a significant drain on already thin resources. And, what if we decide to take it, shelve it for a year ('rebuilding year') and then rebrand it with a totally new name (for consistency's sake)? Does that even make sense? If so, maybe it's wiser to let it dissolve and ask key board members to help us enter the market in a year or two, when we have the resources to do so. Basically, we need to figure out which makes more sense: take an established event with a long history but a good deal of baggage, shelve it and reintroduce it in 1.5 +/- years, or let it fade away now and then enter the newly freed market in that same time frame as a fresh property (associated with the NYILFF) with more robust resources and no baggage, but also no local brand equity? Decisions, decisions...
~ Liz

November 14, 2008

MIA for 007

A friend and fellow entrepreneur just wrote me the following email: "I am thinking of playing hooky this afternoon and going to see the new Bond film. One of the benefits of being your own boss :)". Fun! And, he's totally right...IF you're already established and successful, in the traditional sense of the word (meaning the definition of success can be pretty personal and diverse). I, on the other hand, have been sitting here all day writing proposals (I know - shocking) to follow up on the various meetings and conference calls I had earlier this week. Clearly, my friend and I reside in two different points along our entrepreneurial journeys. But, that's a good thing because it shows this is, in fact, a journey and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I think it's always better to look up and ahead than down and behind. Gotta keep trucking onward and upward so one day I can play hooky to see the new Bond film...
~ Liz


November 13, 2008

Sponsorship 101, Part 2: Media Partners

I just returned from a meeting with the NY Daily News, the official English-language newspaper of the NY Int'l Latino Film Festival. Yowsers, is it a rainy mess outside. Regardless, here's the cool thing about having a good relationship with your media partners: you can work together to approach sponsors as a combined event + media opportunity. Basically, the media partner approaches its advertisers on your behalf and brings you in for the pitch and negotiation. So, in effect, the media partner serves as your sales agent to clients with whom you don't have contacts (or, strong enough contacts). It's a big corporate world out there and, hopefully, your database grows every day. But, quite frankly, it's nearly impossible to know everyone at every company. So, if your media partner wants to pick up some of that slack for a potentially mutually beneficial opportunity, rock on! The general concept is the following: in exchange for paying a sum of money, the sponsor receives a customized event sponsorship package + advertising inventory from the media partner, which the sponsor then uses to promote its sponsorship of the event. So, the event property (in this case, the NY Int'l Latino Film Festival) receives not only the cash but also the additional media exposure. The media partner (in this case, the NY Daily News) takes a percentage of that sponsor payment to justify the media contribution, so it's a happy camper, too. And, of course, assuming it's a strong event opportunity, which in this case - come on, don't make me say it...the sponsor is thrilled because its brand is now associated with a high profile event that includes dedicated media and all sorts of sales drivers and promotional activation against a key target demo. So, you see, it's a win-win-win for all involved. We've identified three specific auto companies and two financial services companies we will collectively approach. Let's see if we can make some magic. In the meantime, I'm off to customize these proposals. Are you seeing a trend, here... ;)
~ Liz

November 12, 2008

Agency Talk

What a day! Here's the highlight: I connected with a guy at an agency I had contacted a few weeks ago but he was slammed with a huge NYC event, so we agreed to reconnect post-event. As it turns out, his agency is owned by one of the MAJOR umbrella advertising conglomerates and, as a result, has strategic relationships with a number of other member agencies; I have strong relationships with some of those sister agencies and weaker ones at others. His agency is primarily, though not exclusively, an event production company so these other agencies engage him to execute their clients' events and promotions. You still with me? Okay, good. So, the point is he offered to forward along the festival's sponsorship proposal to some of those strategic partners - very cool of him (but, of course, remember the real value to him is potential new work if any clients bite). The bigger news, however, is he offered to forward the proposal to a couple of executives who sit at the very top of the umbrella corporation overseeing ALL multicultural efforts on behalf of ALL member agencies. I mean...are you kidding me?? Jackpot! So, I immediately switch gears and start talking about Cinedulce because, quite frankly, if one of our proposals is going to be put on the desk of top agency executives, it should be the one that speaks to our larger corporate strategy. So, I do my best impromptu pitch about what Cinedulce is all about and how we want to work with agencies and, shazam!, he digs it. Suddenly, we're on the same page and, together, we decide he will forward the Cinedulce proposal to the top executives and the NYILFF proposal to select agencies with potential sponsorship clients. I literally then spent the next 4 +/- hours tweaking the Cinedulce proposal - editing it down, tightening the language and driving home the key points. In the end, I think it's strong and I hope he agrees. I guess we'll find out soon enough, right? Cross your fingers for me...this could be BIG!
~ Liz

November 11, 2008

Sponsorship 101, Part 1

Here's the thing about sponsorship: it's hard. I could be all euphemistic and say it's challenging, but let's be real: it's hard. It's stressful. And, it's a pressure cooker because more often than not the program for which you're seeking sponsorship survives on that corporate support. And, unfortunately, you're not alone: almost every company -- small, mid-size and large -- is bombarded daily by national/regional/local events and organizations seeking product, cash, media, support and/or bartered services. It's madness. Many companies are so overwhelmed, they no longer directly accept sponsorship proposals; you have to go through their agencies, which act as filters, or, worst case scenario, submit online through Sponsorwise or other similar online system. From an industry standpoint, sponsors are grouped into categories (automotive, spirits, beauty, QSR - quick service restaurant, financial services, etc.); each category has industry-wide standards for sponsorship success that directly relate to revenue channels, and each individual brand has its own specific benchmarks for success. If you're dealing with a parent that has sub-brands, each of those sub-brands has its own positioning, strategy, budget, contacts and performance yardsticks. So, any time you make a call to a prospective sponsor, you want to keep in mind the general goals of that category (e.g., drive retail traffic, drive qualified leads, drive new subscribers, sample product, etc.) and also the specific positioning of that brand. If an apparel company is positioned as a hard-core athletic brand, don't call with a jazz fest. Big duh, I know...but, I swear, you'd be surprised! And, all is well and good until you get down to brass tacks and start talking activation. The devil is in the details, mi amigo, the devil is in the details. Sometimes, sponsor expectations (Can you guarantee 10 A-list celebs at the indie screening?? Can you provide me a 50'x50' space right outside the theater on that main Manhattan avenue? WTF!?!) are so unrealistic, you just have to laugh...and then figure out how to deliver. But! But! When you get a sponsor that really gets it, you know 'it' -- what you're trying to do, who you are as a brand, what your audience is all about, how to think outside that itty-bitty box -- well, then, sponsorship can be a blast because that's when you get creative, collaborative and constructive (don't ya just love alliteration?). That's when the magic happens, partnership is fun and you feel a huge sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. THEN the real work begins...
~ Liz

November 10, 2008

Choice of a New Generation?

You thought I was talking about Obama, didn't you?? Nope. Though, the sentiment applies, don'tcha think? In fact, I'm talking about Pepsi, the owner of that now defunct tag line and one of the film festival's 2008 sponsors. I'm hoping to bring them back in 2009 and (fingers crossed!) grow that partnership into a larger deal with the fest and/or tie-in Cinedulce. Wouldn't that be divine? My original contact recently left the company (ay dios!), so today I connected with his replacement, who actually worked on his team; so, hopefully, that will work in our favor. She seems super cool, but that doesn't mean she wants to spend her precious marketing dollars with us. Ah yes, the sponsorship sales process is so lovely. Regardless, the proposal is out the door and now we wait...

On a different, unrelated note, Lyndon, our editing/producing/directing genius, just sent us the first cut of our video recap of the 2008 film festival and damn was it good!
Calix and I will send notes for some tweaking & tightening, but it's a super first-pass and I can't wait to show you (and prospective sponsors)! For now, you'll just have to take my word for it. Ewww, such a tease... ;)
~ Liz

November 7, 2008

Panic button? Nah!

I can't believe how Zen Calixto and I have become. We, Bryan from Spoon + Fork, our kick-ass creative agency, and Lyndon had a meeting this afternoon to discuss video players, storage space and other back-end miscellany that may not sound all that sexy but is the technical foundation of our company. So, um, yeah, it's pretty important. Anyhoodles, we had already planned to upgrade our player and add some new, cool functionality to the site, but the process has been greatly and unexpectedly expedited because of circumstances beyond our control. Awesome! In the "PCD" era (a.k.a. pre-Cinedulce), this may have caused near-panic mode. Code Red! Eject, eject! Now? (yawn) I don't know...we've been through too much both with Cinedulce and, even more so, with the festival. I mean, you can't imagine what ridiculousness we've experienced over the years - honestly, pure insanity. It's comical, really. At this point, we both realize there really is a solution for everything. You just have to stay calm, be creative and figure it out. And, in fact, we are now well on our way to finding that solution. It's going to cost us some money we don't necessarily feel all that comfortable spending, but that's part of the gig. Sometimes, you have to take a risk, a leap of faith, and hope it all sort of works itself out in the end. On a different note, last night I had a delicious (although slightly warm, which I hate) dirty martini and that really helped relax me and put things in perspective. ;)

~ Liz

November 6, 2008

Subway OD

Honestly, I've had enough of the subway today. I've been in and out of the subway about 8 times. I've been to Williamsburg, the UWS and midtown east (I'm west). I've taken the 2/3, L and Shuttle (and a bus!) all multiple times...enough! But, the good news is I had a very positive meeting with an insurance company that is interested in partnering with the festival and a second meeting with my friend, Andrew, who runs Remezlca - very cool site. We have some interesting partnership ideas brewing. Stay tuned...!
~ Liz

November 5, 2008

Holy crap! YES WE DID!

There's likely not all that much I can add to what you've already read, discussed, heard, watched and/or thought about the historic revelation that was last night's election - the results, the speeches, the widespread elation and unbridled celebration. Suffice it to say, a new era has begun. But, what I think is worth noting is the shift, the 'transformation' if you will, was not so much that Barak Obama inspired a nation (though, he certainly did that and more), but rather that the already pluralized American cultural landscape is what enabled the rise of Barak Obama: the perfect candidate with the perfect campaign at the perfect time in history. And, furthermore, the Hispanic vote, of course along with the African-American vote, was one of the key determining factors. Finally, FINALLY, the mainstream is beginning to acknowledge the power of the combined Latino and Urban communities. Maybe it's not even the mainstream that didn't recognize this; maybe it's just the conservative right Republicans (do they really think Joe the Plumber, Joe Sixpack and small-town white soccer moms are the American archetypes? What about everyone else??). Either way, the cat's out of the bag and I, for one, look forward to watching and experiencing how Barak Obama's presidency breaks wide open those barriers - race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, religion - and, at the very least, puts a megaphone to the dialogue. From my perspective, I hope this experience inspires more filmmakers to tell their stories about diversity, acculturation, assimilation, individuality - whatever, whatever it is they want to say, express, share. Now is the time because the nation, if not the world, is paying close attention and listening to what we all have to say. So speak up, mis amigos. This is just the beginning.
~ Liz

November 4, 2008

Get Your Vote On

Okay, I don't know about you, but I'm having a hard time working today b/c I'm totally preoccupied with the election. I just voted and damn do I feel patriotic. I mean, we stand at the precipice of what could be one of the most significant moments in our lifetime, if not this country's history. When you consider the potential impact of this election, it's mind blowing. The United States is a diverse, colorful quilt of cultures, colors, languages, sexual preferences, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds and political orientations. It's immense, aspirational, complex, expansive, powerful and beautiful. But, it also can be frustrating, unfair, prejudiced and imbalanced. When I consider the fact that I, a Jewish woman, have the opportunity to vote for a brilliant African-American to be president... well, let's just say, it's awesome. I mean, African-Americans couldn't vote until 1870 (and are still dealing with discrimination within the polling system), women not until 1920, and, basically, no one feels Bloomberg could ever be president because he's Jewish and the conservative, religious right would never allow it. So, there's a lot happening, right here, right now. But, the thing is, despite the sundry differences that exist 'from sea to shining sea', we hopefully all share one resounding similarity - the desire to live in a nation that not only allows, but actually celebrates individualism, uniqueness and heterogeneity. One that grants the freedom to pursue your dreams, be who you are and express yourself. As a female entrepreneur, who is the co-executive director of a film festival and president of a distribution platform for the Latino and urban communities, I feel a particular sense of pride, but also concern, for this nation's future. As I mentioned above, I believe we stand at a precipice; what we do at this historic moment is our CHOICE. So, be mindful and think carefully about your definition of democracy. What story do you want to tell the world? Use your voice and vote.
~ Liz

November 3, 2008

Happy Hulaween, y'all!

Holy smokes - Bette Midler's Hulaween benefit on Friday night for her NYC Restoration Project was INSANE! Check out some of these pix (can you guess who is the goth woman and who is in the giant red wig?). As I mentioned on Friday, I decided to go simple and somewhat wing my costume as a cowgirl. I certainly didn't win any awards for creativity, but it worked and was cheap: mission accomplished. All I know is this was not your average bear party so Calixto (uh, I mean, Dr. C) and I really tried to soak it all in and enjoy the moment. Tons of celebs, including host Bette Midler, MC Kathy Griffin, Pink, John McEnroe, Jimmy Buffett, Kareem Abdul Jabbar (gigantic man!) and Gloria Estefan, who's an amazing, energetic live performer and whose teen daughter is a great electric guitarist - who knew?? Plus, it occurred to me, in all my years in NYC, I had never been to the Waldorf Astoria. Check that off my list! Big, huge, gigantic thanks to our friends at American Airlines for inviting us to join them at this awesome event. Happy Halloween to all!
~ Liz

November 2, 2008

School Daze

My 'cameo appearance' yesterday at my friend's (Rachel - 2nd from left) multicultural marketing class at Brooklyn College was great! I loved the experience and according to Rachel, I 'killed it'. Hey, what'd you expect?? ;) No, really - I think it's awesome to work with students and I'm a tad jealous of Rachel. It's just incredibly cool to have the opportunity to help shape someone's future...inspire, encourage, motivate. One young woman even asked if I mentor. Plus, many of them took my card, so hopefully, they'll stay in touch. Here's a picture of the class. They're a great group of students and I wish them the best of luck.
~ Liz

October 31, 2008


Happy Halloween!! For the first time in several years, I'm actually donning a costume. Why? Because our dear friends/sponsors at American Airlines generously invited Calixto and me to join them tonight at the Waldorf for Bette Midler's benefit event, MC'd by Kathy Griffin, for the NY Restoration Project. Yep, you heard me: Waldorf. Bette. Kathy. Lions. Tigers. And Bears. Oh my! You're probably thinking I'm going all out and wearing some fabulous, outrageous outfit. Not so, my naive amigo. That would not be the prudent way to go for an entrepreneur on a budget. Instead, I'm going as a cowgirl. Giddy-up! I have a cowboy hat and cute-as-pie cowgirl shirt from Halloween '07. Plus, I bought a lasso and new red bandanna at Ricky's; throw on some jeans, put the hair in low pigtails, dot some freckles and off I go. Of course, I don't think Michael Kors, the costume judge, is going to present me the 'Halloween Runway' award and, if Heidi Klum were there, she'd probably say, "Auf Wiedersehen", but that's not the point. The point simply is to participate, celebrate, enjoy and not exit with costume buyer's remorse. Plus, tomorrow, I'm speaking to a class at Brooklyn College about multicultural marketing. So, I can't go too bananas (not that I would do that with sponsors anyway...please, I'm a pro-fess-i-on-al). Okay, I need to get back to work. I just got off the phone with the agency for a potential sponsor and before I get all 'Joanna Wayne', I need to customize a proposal. So, I'm off. Have a great Halloween, remember not to eat too many candy corn or your stomach will rebel, and entertain yourself by counting how many Sarah Palins you see (I already know there's at least one at my table tonight!).
~ Liz

October 30, 2008

Be Like Mike!

What a day! I spent the vast majority of the AM and early PM preparing for a meeting with my friend, Mike, who works at a top investment bank that focuses on media. Mike's already been a HUGE help to us by introducing me to an executive at Comcast; that introduction led to Comcast's request for a Jan. '09 meeting to discuss a potential VOD partnership. Yowsers! Okay, focus...back to Mike. So, I presented him the revised investor presentation, which reflected our modified strategy. Over the course of the past year or so, we recognized we had to rethink some of the revenue streams. It turns out NOT doing that kind of evaluation is a classic entrepreneurial mistake. Mike mentioned many entrepreneurs get so fixated on their ideas and so mired in the day-to-day details of trying to get the business off the ground, they don't take the time to step back and consider the big picture, i.e., evaluate progress, viability of the original strategies, new opportunities, industry research, etc. Go us! Anyhoo, I was a bit nervous to show Mike the proposal b/c I have a huge amount of respect for him and, as I mentioned, he's been immensely helpful; I just wanted to validate his efforts by showing we know what we're doing and can articulate why and how we're going to make Cinedulce a success. And, guess what?? He said it was great! More importantly, he thinks we totally made the right decisions in terms of the refined approach and thinks we're right on target. I mean, talk to me! Next steps: he's going to make a few more key introductions and, in the meantime, we're going to keep trucking along. We need to keep building and, hopefully, by the time we reach potential investors in Q1 '09, we'll have an even stronger story with even stronger proofs of concept. When that time comes, he may even have some investor intros for us. Here's the thing. Although Mike is amazingly generous and supportive, there is a potential business upside for him: when the time comes to sell this baby in 5 +/- years (our 'exit strategy' as the investment biz likes to call it), Mike's firm will hopefully handle the sale. Nothing like looking towards the future, huh? ;) So, all in all, we pretty much love Mike. As the old Gatorade ad went, everyone should "Be Like Mike". And, if you don't know what I'm talking about, you're either too young or too oblivious to pop culture since that Mike is arguably the most famous athlete of our generation (and, no, it's not Michael Phelps..jeez!). ;)
Lator gators,