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