Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Writer/Director Eric Espejo welcomes the sellout DCIFF crowd

This was it. After all the anticipation, the hype—and most importantly, the hard work—Ghosts Don't Exist enjoyed a successful, sold-out premiere Sunday at the 2010 DC Independent Film Festival! A HUGE thanks again to everyone who made it happen!

It's hard to believe that it was just last February when Chris Cooley announced the greenlight of the film. And believe it or not, it was a year ago to the day—March 14th, 2009—when the producers saw over 220 casting auditions! The 19th + Wilson team had no way of knowing that exactly one year later, they'd be premiering the film.

Last March and April were spent selecting the cast, securing locations, and assembling crew. Then, in May, began the intense 15-day filming schedule, which is well-documented here on the blog. And from there, it was all ab
out post-production.

The consensus you'll hear from just about everyone involved with this project is that it really feels like everyone has known each other for much longer than a year—in a very good way. Because from the very beginning, this team of cast, crew, and investors has felt like family. And that's why this past weekend felt as much like a family reunion for the team as it did a movie premiere.

The festivities kicked off Saturday night, as the Midtown Loft hosted an exclusive Ghosts Don't Exist party to get everyone ready for the big premiere. The turnout was great, and the crowd had a blast in anticipation of closing out the DCIFF in less than 24 hours. Great atmosphere, great drinks, great friends, and great fun!

GDE stars Chris Kennedy and Frederick Cowie enjoy a drink at the Loft

Joe Hansard, along with cinematographer Kuni Ohi and producer Richard Friend

Sunday's premiere was a memorable one. Fans filed into the U.S. Navy Memorial Heritage Center, and DCIFF volunteers regretfully informed some that the event was sold out. Those who had tickets descended to the elegant reception area, where a line soon began forming to the Burke Theatre. Within minutes, the line had extended the entire span of the beautiful facility.

Executive Producer Chris Cooley was on hand, of course, and both he and brother Tanner gave interviews to Redskins.com TV before the movie. Legendary Washington, DC film cr
itic Arch Campbell also attended the screening, and enjoyed the film! Fans in line were thrilled to meet Arch and Chris in person, and plenty of photo ops and autographs ensued.

Once inside the theater, writer/director Eric Espejo was invited to say a few words to welcome the crowd. Two excellent short films then opened the event: Mike Salva's hilarious animated short, Back to Life, and Dan Sachar's unnerving When It Will Be Silent. Both set the tone well for the eager GDE audience, most of whom were seeing the film for the very first time—some crew members included.

Several scenes produced audible shocks amongst the crowd, adding to the fun. And as the final credits rolled, the raucous applause was a wonderful crowning moment for everyone who had a hand in making the film.

After the film, Espejo and fellow producers Aaron Goodmiller and Richard Friend took a few questions from the audience—most eager to know how this film came to be, and when the next 19W project can be expected. "It's already in the works," the team assured them.

Fans exiting the theater were greeted with one final surprise... official Ghosts Don't Exist keychain flashlights—a relevant (and handy!) little reminder of the indie premiere.

But the night wasn't over yet. There were awards to be announced, and GDE WON! The 2010 DC Filmmaker Award went to Eric Espejo, for Ghosts Don't Exist!

The entire 19th + Wilson/GDE team enjoyed a tremendous outpouring of support from friends, family, and fans alike last weekend, and were genuinely touched by the turnout. Many thanks again to everyone who made the trip into the city on a busy Sunday (in the wake of the annual St. Patrick's Day parade, no less!) to share in this very special event!

The premiere has passed, but the GDE journey is really only just getting warmed up! Lots of big news remains on the horizon... stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

DCIFF: Everything You Need to Know!

We're just a few short days away from the premiere of Ghosts Don't Exist! The sold-out event at the DC Independent Film Festival promises to be a bit chaotic, so we wanted to make sure guests know exactly where they're going—and get there on time.

Here are a few things you'll need to know (and remember!):

Sunday, March 14, 2010, 4:30 PM

U.S. Navy Memorial Museum | Heritage Center, Burke Theatre

701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20004

(Entrance: between D Street & Pennsylvania Avenue, at 8th Street)

Metro: Archives-Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter metro stop on the Green/Yellow line
Parking: Public parking lots surround the block, and average $7 per hour.

Coming from Pennsylvania Aveune, you'll see the entrances to the Naval Heritage Center just across the courtyard in the building to your right. There should be some DCIFF signage near the doors, as well.

The will call desk is located directly inside the entrance, and is staffed by DCIFF volunteers. It's very likely that there will be a line extending into the courtyard, as the lobby is quite small. If you have to pick up your tickets (guests who purchased a 10-pack or more) you'll need to pick them up at will call. Remember to bring your receipt—this will help expedite the line tremendously!

If your tickets were emailed to you, remember to print them out and bring them! You should be able to bypass the will call line completely if you have your ticket with you. There will be a DCIFF volunteer stationed at the stairs, leading down to the main reception area. They will check your tickets and allow you inside.

However, if you still wish to purchase tickets to the Closing Ceremony/Reception (see below) you will have to do so at the will call desk. At the time of this post, $20 tickets are still available for the closing reception online. So if you can, just buy them in advance online and skip will call entirely. Reception tickets (if still available at the door) will be $25.

The theater is located just beyond the reception area, and seats 242. Again, the event is already sold out, so you'll definitely want to get there early—especially if you're planning to sit together with a group. And if you didn't get tickets already, we're afraid you may have missed the boat (naval pun unintended). There are no tickets being sold at the door, unfortunately.

Several people have also asked about the other films being screened that evening, and when Ghosts Don't Exist will actually be shown. The other two films are animated shorts—2 and 7-minute films, respectively. GDE will start soon after—another reason to definitely get there on time! ;)

The Ceremony/Reception/After-party
We're still a bit in the dark about what the DCIFF has planned for after the show. There apparently will be a brief awards ceremony, and a screening of highlights from this year's Best of the Fest films. There will be food and drink at the actual Closing Reception, however, which is why DCIFF has to sell tickets. This will all take place right there on the premises, in the main reception area.

Closing Reception tickets are still available online for the advance price of $20 (they'll be $25 at the door, if they haven't sold out.)

The 19th + Wilson team will be hanging out for the entire event, and mingling with other DC filmmakers and fans, so we hope you will do the same! If you're unable to stick around for the after party, there should be ample opportunity to mingle nonetheless. Please make sure you stop by and say hello!

Lastly, 19W is hosting a little celebration the night before at the Midtown Loft—open to all fans of Ghosts Don't Exist, whether you're able to make it to the premiere Sunday or not!

Join us Saturday night, March 13th from 7–9PM. Check out the Facebook event page to RSVP, and we hope to see you there as well!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Marketing, 19W Style

There are
some pretty cool things happening at the DC Independent Film Festival between now and March 14th, when Ghosts Don't Exist has the honor of closing the show. The festival isn't just about the films themselves, of which there are over 100 to choose from this year. In addition, there are plenty of seminars and workshops available, aimed towards educating filmmakers about the intricate process of making movies—and the details that transcend production and post-production. 19th + Wilson was pleased to be invited to speak at Saturday's Marketing and Distribution seminar, and Creative Director Richard Friend was on hand to discuss some of the ways 19W and Ghosts Don't Exist have generated attention.

DCIFF Founder & Executive Director Carol Bidault and 19W's Richard Friend

Friend described the creative process that the 19W team has taken to spread the word about Ghosts Don't Exist, beginning with social media. "Facebook has been such a tremendous help," he says, citing the creation of individual film Fan Pages—such as the one for GDE. "It gives us an opportunity to interact with fans that just didn't exist a few short years ago."

But really getting the word out about a film requires more than just creating a Facebook page; you not only have to recruit fans—you have to keep them coming back. Friend believes the 19W marketing approach has been successful because of the coordinated efforts of its group. "We try not to rely on just one thing," he says. In fact, they have a number of mediums through which they get the message out: 19W.com, ghostsdontexist.com, the GDE blog, and their personal Facebook and Twitter updates.

Friend also explained the team's process of disseminating that information. "Rather
than giving away the whole story, we like to think of it as a gradual, layered process—like unwrapping a gift. We start by giving them hints... Revealing little pieces of information as we go. The idea is to create a sense of mystery and generate interest. Sometimes you have to look beyond merely posting generic updates, and start developing your own stories and content that's relevant to the project."

He described director Eric Espejo's idea of starting a production blog, which began as a means of updating fans live from the GDE set during filming. "This was a first for us, and it was a fun way to document the entire process. I can remember blogging from each location; describing the tone of the set each day and some of the challenges we faced." The blog provided an opportunity to share unique behind-the-scenes experiences with fans that might otherwise have been lost.

But Friend also recalls the uncertainty he felt as the 15-day production drew to a close. "I worried about what we'd do with the blog after filming wrapped. We didn't want to just let it languish after all the fun we'd started."

That's when the team began experim
enting with sidebar stories—profiles of cast and crew, and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. "We knew we wanted to keep the buzz going long after production ended, and we realized that we didn't have to be on set to do that. There were so many wonderful people associated with this film—experienced crewmembers with fantastic stories... Just writing about them was a nice change of pace, and a great way to let our fans get to see a different side of production."

Have You Been There?
Friend explained how the team also tries to deliver its messages in new and creative ways—ways that engage the audience rather than simply updating them. He believes this was perhaps best demonstrated when the team cryptically unveiled its next project last summer.

"We didn't just one day announce 'Hey, we're going to be doing a film called ----.' Instead, we came up with an oblique phrase that we thought would generate curiosity: Have you been there?" But it was how the team delivered the phrase that got the most attention. The entire 19W family, including GDE producers Chris and Tanner Cooley, updated their Facebook status simultaneously at 10PM with the unusual question, "Have you been there?"

"It was awesome. People thought Facebook had been hacked or something... because all at once, the entire news feed was filled with this one status update! The screen showed all these different people, all saying "Have you been there?"

We were getting
questions from friends, family, and even cast and crew who were in the dark—'what is this all about? Have I been where?!' Some even began posting the message themselves, without knowing what it meant!"

There's an App For That
Another topic of discussion was the iPhone app, Ghost Capture. Friend explained how he and Aaron Goodmiller created the paranormal photo-faking application as a relevant means of promoting Ghosts Don't Exist. "We timed the initial release before Halloween," he said. "Then we decided to try something different. We made it free."

The free app was downloaded thousands of times globally, with each new user being made aware of this little American indie film, Ghosts Don't Exist. "We didn't really know what to expect," he admits. "And then, all of a
sudden, we see the app breaking into the Top 20 on iTunes... and then the Top 10."

Ghost Capture was also getting decent reviews, thanks to its user-friendly interface and eerily realistic imagery. "The only real complaint we were hearing was that there weren't enough ghosts," Fr
iend says. "And that's exactly what we wanted." Earlier this year, iTunes released an enhanced version, available for 99 cents. The expanded edition includes 30 ghosts—three times the number available in the original. The free version also remains available.

While the app is fun and provides earning potential, Friend insists that its primary goal is still to promote Ghosts Don't Exist. The team continues to find new ways to utilize the app to engage users, such as the current Scariest Photo Contest.

Periodically, users are alerted via pop-up
messages directly within the app. "They'll certainly be alerted when Ghosts Don't Exist is released on DVD, for instance," he says. "And we have to believe that at least a portion (of app users) are going to buy it as a result."

The app got an unexpected boost in February, when British tabloids including The Sun ran a story about a builder who had allegedly captured a ghost in a cellphone photo. It quickly became apparent that the "apparition" was actually straight from the Ghost Capture app, and once again, the number of downloads soared. "The free version has been downloaded over 500,000 times already," Friend reports. "We often joke that the app could actually end up grossing more money than the film itself, which is why this kind of marketing is so important."

Ghost Capture enjoyed a recent European boost, thanks to a U.K. prank that garnered international attention.
The app reached #1 in Sweden, and rose all the way from #300 in Spain to crack the Top 10 overnight.

Festival-goers will see the 19W marketing efforts in full bloom, as Ghosts Don't Exist postcard giveaways have been a hot item since opening night. "We've also got an extra little surprise for everyone attending Sunday night's (sold out) premiere," Friend says. "But they'll have to wait until after the movie to find out."

Naturally. :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Not Just Any Football Card

It goes without saying that we here at 19th + Wilson are football fans. In fact, that's how some of us first met—playing Saturday morning football together in 1999. It was during those games that we discovered a common interest in filmmaking, and began pooling our collective resources to start our independent film company. Little did we know that in less than a decade, we'd be making a feature film with the help of one of the most popular NFL stars in the sport; one of our favorite players. Chris Cooley.

Thursday night, on the way home from the DC Independent Film Festival's opening ceremony, we were reminded of just how integral football has been to this journey... and how for us, it will forever be connected to this particular film. Ghosts Don't Exist's own Donny Aros emailed us about an awesome discovery he'd made—2009 Topps® NFL Football Card #163. A new Chris Cooley card.

It's a rather conservative design as far as football cards go, and on the back of said card is the standard stuff: Chris' vital information, and his impressive stats from 2004–08. But what's remarkable is the summary statement. Right there, in black and white—on an official Topps® NFL Football Card—is Chris Cooley's commitment to our film:

Chris is one of the NFL's most entertaining and accessible players, bringing fans into his life through his well-produced blog. It was through that enterprise that he met his partners for a film production entitled Ghosts Don't Exist. Says Cooley, "I was an art major in college. If there's something I want to support, it's the arts."
It's such an honor to have our film represented on Chris' football card! Even as word continues to spread and Ghosts Don't Exist gains exposure on both national and global levels, there's something very special about this. And like any favorite football card, there always will be.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Scariest Photo Contest Finalists! VOTE NOW!

The producers of Ghosts Don't Exist have reviewed hundreds of Ghost Capture submissions, and have painstakingly selected the top 10 finalists for our Scariest Photo Contest! Now, it's up to YOU to vote for the winner! Let's take a closer look at each entry, shall we? Here they are, in no particular order:

We're not sure what the doctor/scientist is doing in his office, but that's a very creepy visage lurking behind him in entry #1.

A striking scene in black and white, this dinner table in entry #2 appears to have a supernatural guest.

Our third entry features a trio of ghostly children lurking in the hall. Waiting to play with you... forever...

Entry #4 conjures up memories of early spirit photography... and eerie Victorian ghosts in top hats hanging out in corners.

Number 5 appears to be a rustic fireside setting, perhaps revealing an early settler who still lingers on the premises.

Our 6th entry illustrates why one should always keep their doors locked.

Entry number 7 appears to be a candid shot of two gentlemen outdoors. But look closer at the window directly behind them...

Number 8 is a lovely family portrait from a happy occasion... with an ever-so subtle spirit joining the pose.

Dramatic lighting paints the ancient stone walls in our 9th entry, which literally contains a figure in the shadows.

And last but certainly not least, our 10th entry very clearly depicts an ominous spectre at the top of the stairs. Do NOT go up there.

Use the poll at the top right of this page to cast your vote now!
The winner will receive a $20 iTunes gift card, courtesy of Ghost Capture! Voting will remain open throughout the month of March. Stay tuned for more contests in the near future, and thanks for continuing to make Ghost Capture a spooky success!