Why Fuller House Campy Wins

Fuller_HouseTwitter was abuzz with the release of Fuller House, the Netflix reprise series based on the original Full House. Since Netflix doesn’t reveal the number of viewers watching, estimates can only be determined by social media activity. All standard media sources suggest that the new series is a large success – No surprise to anyone.

Conversely, there probably isn’t a single critic in the market that would recommend the campy 80’s styled sitcom, but they’d all admit the episodes are perfectly crafted for the show’s original fans. The polarized marketplace will probably not provide any new viewers, but the series had a very large initial fan base eager to watch the series again.

It was clear in the first episode that the cast played some of the jokes straight to the audience including the writer’s proverbial hand slap to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (who played Michelle Tanner) for not joining the cast. The media picked up on the controversy, which increased viewership.

The Olsen ladies are fashion experts and not in a position to leave their empire unmanaged. Nor do they consider themselves actors, which would make the long shooting days grueling rather than stimulating. But, the deciding factor would have been the dollars spent on their high salaries that are well above an Internet budget. Another deterrent might be their lackluster desire to look alike and take turns playing Michelle. Although some still hope they will appear for a cameo in a future episode.

However, the real question behind Fuller House is how can a campy 80’s styled sitcom be so successful in an era when dark motion pictures excel over cheeky? The answer to the question is also demonstrative in the faith-based markets. So, I thought I’d try to explain both.

Two factors attribute to the Fuller House success. The first are the beloved characters that fans grew up with. During the 80’s, the characters played “family” well. It was during a time when families were breaking a part with more divorces than any other time in the history of our country. The characters became role models for those seeking unity of family in a time when the family unit was being dissolved.

The second factor was about demonstrating what “love” looked like. In fact, the first episode of Fuller House dove right in and demonstrated that same sacrificial love for the sake of family that made the show great in the 80’s. Our society has been polarized in recent years between narcissists and those willing to make sacrifices for loved ones. Fuller House is capitalizing on those who long for someone to demonstrate true love to them, which they can vicariously receive, with hope, through the series.

Anyone thinking that it’s the cheese factor that attracts the audience is missing how powerful it is for a fan to receive life lessons from a beloved character. They may also be missing the fact that most people in our country no longer have anyone that is willing to share unconditional and sacrificial love with them. That void emotionally bonds the beloved characters  with the audience, making them a part of their family.

The successful faith-based films are the same way. It’s not the cheesy storylines that draw the audience, but the “born again” stars that drive the films. David A. R. White always plays an approachable character who lives his faith out loud for everyone to see. In real life, White does the same, completing the connection for audiences to adore his work. It’s not his acting skills that draw the audience, but his personal character and his role.

Fuller House’s Candace Cameron Bure also shares personal similarities with her D. J. Tanner character. Both live a wholesome life out loud for all to see and are held in high esteem as a role model. Her super fans played a large role in supporting and promoting her conservative ideas when she was on The View – Proving that campy wasn’t the key factor to her success.

The funny thing is that many think campy is the thing that works in both Fuller House and faith-based films. But it’s the campy that pushes the general public away from the moral based shows. Only those who already appreciate wholesome living are able to tolerate the campy and it’s been around forever.

The 40’s had Abbott and Costello. The 50’s had Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. The 60’s moved campy to television with Batman. The 70’s campy shifted back to the silver screen with car films that allowed stars like Burt Reynolds to temporarily leave character and wink at the audience. The 80’s brought numerous campy series to television like Full House, The Facts of Life, Family Ties, Happy Days and many more. The 90’s saw the introduction of dozens of reality shows, which killed most campy shows.

Today campy is back, but not because people want to live in a delusional state, but because it’s the only shows that offer a demonstration on what family looks like and how to unconditionally share a sacrificial love with someone by putting them above oneself. Those two factors will continue to keep Fuller House a success until someone comes up with a realistic non-campy show that demonstrates the same.

Until then, get ready for more “cheeky,” as other shows from the top fifty 80’s sitcoms get re-launched on the Internet. And, expect more cheeky faith-based films to be released, while producers continue to think it’s the campy sweetness that makes the shows work.

© 2016 by CJ Powers

Braving Social Media at Award Ceremonies

Actors are great at developing hype to draw their fans to anticipate the results of an award announcement. They bring their fan base into the ballroom vicariously through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Periscope. The progressive evening puts fans on the edge of their seat and then…nothing. The actor stops the stream of updated posts because he or she doesn’t know what to do when the award goes to another artist.

Publicity boutiques coach their talent on how to push through the loss with skills that increase their fan base. That’s right, the loss can increase the actor’s fan based when it’s handled properly. Here are some of the points taught:

Fans love to follow their favorite actors down the red carpet and into the ballroom. Why? Not to watch them win or lose, but to watch them interact with other stars. Fans love to know that “their” star is well connected. This sense of ownership generates compassion and pride every time their actor chats or poses with another. And, if the actor is at a table of stars, all the better. One thing is certain; it’s not about the win. Only the actor is concerned about who receives the statue.

Networking with other actors that promote through social media increases both actors’ fan base. “Reconnecting” at a ceremony increases the interests of the fans to promote the actor through word of mouth. The more connections made at the ceremonies, the wider the distribution of word of mouth advertising.

Fans want to be there for the actor’s win, but more importantly they want to see the human experience played out. The fan wants to know the star is just like them – disappointment and all. Fans want to learn how to handle those same types of responses in their own life and they want to learn it from their role model.

Taking a great photo with each of the nominees in the actor’s category is a golden opportunity to share respect with peers before the winner is announced. It’s also an ideal moment to snap a picture of the actor sharing a smile with his or her winning “friend.” After all, promoting a congratulatory picture of the actor smiling with the winner will get massive traction in social media – Extremely valuable promotions. And, knowing that the actor’s circle of “friends” are award winners, means it’s only a matter of time before the fans see their actor make it to the big time – Instilling greater loyalty.

There are many more tips given by PR coaches, but the above will greatly accelerate the career of the average actor. It’s all about entertaining the fan base, while revealing the human condition. There is no better set of circumstances for developing true loyalty in fans. Actors must embrace and get excited about the great benefits of a well-promoted loss.

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers


Why Kendrick Brothers and Miller Confuse Hollywood

Warren Miller EntertainmentWarren Miller Entertainment is the most respected name in shooting action sports films since 1949. I met director Warren Miller when I was at the university. He brought his team to La Crosse Mountain and shot stunt and trick skiers for one of his feature films. He also shot some comedic scenes that included my university drum line skiing down the slopes while we played our marching drums.

In fact the entire Marching Chiefs, our high stepping competitive marching band, also participated in the shoot – Well, at least the ones that knew how to ski. I’m not sure how it happened, but I also ended up playing my marching snare in television commercials demonstrating how wide the newest grocery store’s aisles where. But I’ve digressed.

Miller was known internationally for his great sports films and every university showed his movies regularly. The films drew large crowds based on the exciting tricks and the comedic fails and spills. And yes, our bass drummer took a nasty spill into the snow knocking over several other band members. As for me, I learned how to do 360s and helicopter spins from the trick skiers – After I had taken off my snare drum.

Miller’s films pulled in millions of dollars every year and confused Hollywood. They couldn’t get a handle on why he was successful. When they tried to copy his tactics to capture some of the revenue, the studios failed miserably. Some how Miller was the king of his niche market and made the exact type of films his audience required, complete with his own personal narration on most pictures.

War Room the MovieHollywood has never understood niche markets, especially in the latest genre of faith-based films. The Kendrick Brothers are now the latest source of Hollywood’s frustrations as their “War Room” movie continues to exceed expectations.

Several critics complain about their movies being stories that preach to the figurative choir, which causes Alex Kendrick to laugh, shake his head, and say, “they just don’t get it.” While the critics want the Kendricks to make their films more palatable for those outside of their niche, the brothers continue to make their trademark films for their niche audience.

Stephen and Alex are preachers who know exactly how to create movies that “preach” an important message to their niche audience. Their goal is to help the “church” understand important principles that can be implemented in their lives for the good of their families. They don’t care about the money or expanding the audience, but the witness their films make and the changed lives that result.

SUPER FANThe Kendricks and Miller have the ideal job as a filmmaker, which only comes about when a director finds his audience. They are able to make the shows they want and in the way they want. The great blessing for both comes in the form of super fans that make sure audiences continue to watch every film they make.

In the industry, production companies try to build a fan base of 500,000 people because that’s the number needed to continue doing what the directors of the show love to do. When the numbers are below that point of demarcation, studios and networks start dictating how the shows are made, which confines the director’s talent.

Thanks to social media and the faster flow of information, production companies now only need 1,000 super fans to give the director the same creative control that used to take a half a million fans to achieve. Both the Kendricks and Miller have their 1,000 super fans that support the director’s untainted vision.

Since Hollywood doesn’t understand the power of niche markets, and therefore understands little about super fans, they are forced to work with the Kendricks and Miller regardless of how they might judge the quality or universality of the films being released. In other words, they don’t get it.

Fans are people who like the artist’s work enough to tell a couple people about it. Super fans are people that not only like the artist’s work, but also do what’s in their power to help the artist get noticed. They are the fans that tell hundreds or thousands of people about their art.

I first learned about super fans when I met Miller. He introduced me to one of his super fans that pulled together enough showings for his films that he’d breakeven far before the budgets required. Miller was happy to help his super fan whenever he had the chance.

I’ve heard that the Kendricks also have super fans that are great influencers and leaders of churches. Every time they release a film, their super fans stir entire mega congregations to get out to the theaters and watch the important films.

This confuses Hollywood all the more. The studios and networks all believe that a film lives and dies based on its story and production values, not its message. However, a team of great super fans makes sure the pictures are successful regardless of the filmmakers ability to tell a great story or place high production values on screen.

Thankfully, both the Kendricks and Miller continually improved on their production values as a way of thanking the audience that supported their films. The more they worked on their story, the wider the audience grew beyond their niche.

This expansion is the only thing Hollywood might comprehend, but it may be a while before they understand how niche markets work. After all, Hollywood is too big to comprehend how niche films bless community.

Copyright © 2015 by CJ Powers