June 20th, 2017
The Lovely Witches Club at Banff World Media Festival 2017
Article By Patti Larsen (with Renee Laprise)
It’s been a fantastic eighteen months designing the relaunch of the Lovely Witches Club, as a full brand consisting of a real life community, books, merchandise and, of course, our Telefilm micro-budget funded webseries.
Founded in 2009, Renee and I have been nurturing the idea and the network of creativity and reclaiming the word “witch” to reference the personal power of all who use it. When Renee approached me in the fall of 2015 after our latest Witches Ball with the plan to pitch for the micro-budget program, I jumped at the chance.
With the brand already established, it was relatively straight forward for us to come up with a marketing strategy, based not only on the LWC itself, but tying in my own personal brand as a full-time award-winning author. The combination must have piqued Telefilm’s interest, because we moved forward in their process and received funding to make the webseries a reality.
Production for the twelve minute/seven episode series happened in 2016, with the bulk of filming happening in August. In November, we were fortunate enough to be included in Telefilm’s Digital Opportunity Bootcamp, hosted during the 2016 Playback Marketing Summit in Toronto, ON. This gave us the chance to learn from experts in marketing, including meeting face-to-face with our digital marketing specialist, Annelise Larson, as well as the other micro-budget participants. We were also given access to the full summit and heard panels from experts representing huge brands and their strategies for success.
Armed with even more amazing knowledge, we made a plan for 2017. The first novella based on episode one launched in January, with the rest publishing when the web episodes aired, beginning in May of 2017.
Our goal to release one episode a week until June 12th was bumped ahead when we were contacted by Telefilm and asked to attend and speak on a panel at the Banff World Media Festival. With many thanks to Francesca Accinelli, director of national promotions and communications at Telefilm, we had the opportunity to be part of this amazing event and participated in a wonderful panel focusing on new voices with Francesca as the host, sharing the stage with Aaron Levitz, head of Wattpad Studios and J. Joly, executive producer from The Coup. Our hour-long panel explored many topics, including finding an audience, growing brand across multiple formats and developing partnerships for greater reach.
Not only did we get to speak about our project, the chance to mingle and communicate with so many talented and motivated producers, buyers and broadcasters gave us the kind of reach we’d never expected at this juncture. Neither Renee or myself intended to pitch the Lovely Witches Club at this event—we had barely two weeks to prepare and wanted instead to absorb as much information as possible before deciding which route we wanted to take. But out of that desire came many opportunities to talk about our brand, including handing out pins (the Head Witch buttons ran out almost immediately, an excellent marketing test!) to a multitude of people, as well as the first novella in print format. Through our offerings, we feel we made real connections with those we talked to. We saw women (and men) including funders and content producers, buyers and marketers identifying personally with the heart of the brand. It was truly thrilling.
We came away from the experience with not only new goals in mind and directions we now know we want to follow, but with connections to several people who were, in the end, asking how they could help us. Now with solid leads to pursue with the potential to develop into dynamic partnerships, we were and continue to be grateful for this entire process, for the support and enthusiasm of everyone we’ve worked with and who have offered assistance and guidance along the way.
We’re excited to know our magical journey has only just begun.