How to Make a Good First Impression

Conversation (Photo by Thomas Hawk)

Conversation (Photo by Thomas Hawk)

According to Prospects, the UK’s Official Graduate Careers Website, research shows that first impressions are made up of the following (via Interviews: How to impress):

  • 55% visual impact, i.e. dress, facial expressions and body language;
  • 38% tone of voice;
  • 7% from what you actually say.

What does this say for how you present yourself?  Whether meeting with an agent, a venture capitalist, or even just making new friends, your appearance and tone have a lot to do with how you are perceived.

If you have time to overcome a first impression, then what you say will have a larger impact in how you are remembered, but it will be much easier if the image your are projecting is consistent with how you want to be seen.

Sex and the City: Women v. Girls

Sex and the City
Image by Lots Of Sprinkles
I usually enjoy picking up the New York Times arts section, but this article struck me as odd, right from the title. Michael Cieply, who writes about the entertainment industry, tries to make a twisted little connection between the new Kit Kittredge film, a G-rated American Girl Doll spin-off, and the blockbuster Sex and the City movie. Cieply crows:

But this G-rated movie adventure is shaping up as Hollywood’s next serious bid for female viewers, some of whom showed their power by pushing the R-rated comedy “Sex and the City” to surprisingly strong first-weekend ticket sales of more than $57 million two weeks ago.

Unless the depression-era Kit Kittredge starts making bathtub cosmopolitans, I sincerely doubt this film has anything to do with the highly commercialized, Prada-encrusted Manhattanites that populate the SATC universe. Except of course, gender.

Why would anyone be surprised that women want to watch movies about women? Courting a female audience is hardly newsworthy, and reducing a kids’ picture to Sex and the City minus the sex seems tawdry and arbitrary. “Women’s pictures” have been around since Kit Kittredge was in diapers. In fact, Ann Hornaday wrote a great article for the Washington Post that looks at the girls-in-the-city formula at the heart of the Sex and the City brand.

Sex in the City, however fabulous it may be, still relies on materialism, stereotypes about women’s bodies and relationships, and an often celebrated ignorance of life outside of wealthy Manhattan neighborhoods. Don’t get me wrong, I love the show, but if I had a daughter old enough to understand the phrase “bikini wax” I wouldn’t let her anywhere near it.

Of course, most of the offerings for young girls aren’t much better. There are the films marketed to girls under the guise of the “Princess” and “Bratz” brands. Then there’s Gossip Girl, which is akin to Sex and the City with more sporadic female camaraderie. What would be newsworthy is a film that wasn’t based on a doll, or an established brand, but on actual girls doing actual girl-like things.

Presenting Your Message

Image by Andres Rueda

Image by Andres Rueda

Picture an advertisement for a cash back rewards credit card. A couple of months ago, this card was offering 5% cash back for the first 3 months and then 1% after that. Now they are offering 1% cash back and a 20% bonus on all cash back earned in the first year.

Which of these deals sounds better?

Many people will say the second one, because the percentage is higher, and the time period is longer. But take another look at what is actually being said.

20% on all cash back earned. So effectively 1.2% on purchases for the year. The first offer gave an average of 2% cash back in the first year, assuming evenly-spaced spending, and the new offer gives only 1.2%.

What lesson can you take away from this? How you present your message is almost as important as what the message says.

Rebranding II

Palindrome’s post about Rebranding got me thinking. This blog has evolved to be about more than just the independent film scene. As young professionals in the media industry, we have naturally come to focus on the next wave of opportunities for those who create media. Whether storytellers, citizen journalists, documentarians, or activists, the landscape is changing for anyone who creates media. It seems silly to have a blog named after a medium that will be mostly a relic to the next generation of media creators.

In an era where iPhones and other portable video players are creating new outlets for creative folk it seems more natural to focus on the future of media than it’s past. The excitement of living in an age when digital reproduction and distribution has eroded the marginal cost of delivering one’s creations to the masses (or niches) encompasses far more than the realm bounded by the concept of “indie film”. To that end, I have looked at several new URLs for this blog, but found all of them taken; most by people who haven’t actually bothered to do much but squat on them.

The process of defining and redefining what we explore will likely continue indefinitely, but the tipping point for switching URL approaches as we gain readers. At some point it becomes more trouble than it is worth to change that part of the brand. Thus, our current goal is to find and claim a URL that will encompass all the discussions we post, rather than one that implies a confinement to a single medium.

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Rebranding

At first, this post might seem a little. . . ephemeral. But I have a point here.

Firstly, I just changed my name from “The Insider” to “Palindrome.” This is because now The Producer and I are both “insiders” – and it feels a little tacky for me to hold on to the title. Also, I actually respond to “Palindrome” in real life, so it might work out better in the long run.

Secondly, I have just finished Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style (Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style). You might be shouting, “But Palindrome, why are you reviewing a fashion book in a film blog?” Well, because it’s made me think about the importance of style in the film world. One of the privileges of working in a “creative” field is getting to wear jeans and sneakers to the office, and only break out the fancy if you win an Oscar. However, I met with a freelancer today whose hair was perfect, her jewelry matched her bag, her sweater was tied neatly. . . she looked great, even though she mostly works from home. What struck me was this: Being “creative” is only half of what we do. The other half is asking people for money, for permits, for a few hours of their time (or a few weeks). If you’re running around asking people to trust you to coordinate a shoot, it doesn’t hurt to show you can coordinate an outfit.

That said, I highly recommend Tim Gunn’s book – cheesy and carnation pink as it is – because it’s not about dressing like the mannequin at Ann Taylor (or Armani), it’s about dressing appropriately for whatever activity you’re engaged in. If that’s filming alligators, then for god sakes wear hiking boots (and maybe shin guards). If that’s pitching to the Discovery Channel, you might want a blazer. Even Michael Moore wears a tux sometimes…