mark geary performing

Renowned Irish Songwriter Visits Portland

During the past several years we’ve hosted Speakeasy events featuring internationally acclaimed filmmakers, Oregon Book Award Winners, journalists and esteemed editors of Portland publications. Now we can add a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter to the list.

We’re delighted to host Mark Geary on May 18th for a “Living Room” concert in AM:PM PR’s living room, located at 2006 SE Clinton.

Mark Geary RSVPMark is one of Ireland’s premier singer-songwriters and throughout the past 20 years he has toured all over Europe, the US and Australia, and has shared the stage with performers including Josh Ritter, Bell X1, Coldplay, Elvis Costello, The Pretenders and Joe Strummer. His records evoke comparisons to artists including Van Morrison, John Lennon, Elliott Smith and Richard Thompson.

Fresh off an autumn tour supporting Glen Hansard (Once, The Swell Season, The Frames) Geary is on his first West Coast jaunt since he was here with Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, and is performing a series of private house concerts in Washington and Oregon.

Geary’s AM:PM PR performance is Wednesday, May 18th with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. The event is free, but a $10 donation to the artist is recommended. RSVP required.

Again, you must RSVP with Mike Phillips if you’d like to join.

Click here to listen to Mark on Spotify.

For more:

Tesla preso chart spike

Will Tesla Become a Victim of Its Own Success?

How Tesla Can Keep Customers Happy – Even if It Keeps Them Waiting

The exciting unveiling of Tesla’s new Model3 attracted more than 325,000 pre-orders in 72 hours. The Model3 may be the first financially accessible mass-market electric car with a 200+ mile range.

But initial demand producing three times the pre-orders initially anticipated means Tesla could face production delays. Tesla’s communication team would be wise to anticipate and prepare for potential PR challenges caused by missing delivery deadlines to customers. In this week’s podcast, AM:PM PR Co-Founder Pat McCormick, shares advice for protecting a company’s reputation and keeping customers happy when manufacturing challenges delay deliveries.


The Risk of Success

In the past few years we’ve witnessed several overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter projects frustrate their backers and generate negative media coverage when the challenges to manufacturing at scale were coupled with significantly underestimated demand.

pyro pet candle Portland-based Coolest Cooler broke a Kickstarter record (previously set by Pebble Watch) raising more than $13 million from backers. Last month, The Oregonian reported that the company’s founder is now seeking a $15 million injection to help fulfill its remaining orders.

I had my own experience with Kickstarter delays after ordering this cat-shaped candle that reveals a metallic skeleton when fully melted. Fortunately, it wasn’t really a must-have item, so I had forgotten about it when the candle finally arrived, six months later. Their communication team was off the hook!

Making a Plan

For any launch, a crisis communication plan is as important as the go-to-market plan. In this podcast, Pat shares tips for preparing a crisis communication plan, and the role the communications team should have in all stages of the planning process.

 

Easter Rising commemoration Portland

Easter Rising Speakeasy – Rising for Revolution and Irish Coffee

It’s been a busy year for AM:PM PR and we missed our own annual St. Patrick’s Day gathering. To make up for it, we’re hosting a uniquely Irish Speakeasy.

JOIN US

Wednesday, April 20th at 4 p.m.


AMPM PR logo over Irish coffee

We’re organizing a special commemoration of a pivotal historical event for the Irish – the 100-year anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916. We’ll be offering Pat’s world-famous Irish Coffee to help set the mood for a compelling presentation by respected local historians who will explore the role prominent Portlanders played during the Irish rebellion a century ago.

 

Easter Rising Infographic

About the Easter Rising of 1916

100 years ago a group of armed men and women gathered across Ireland – then part of the British Empire – and took part in an armed rebellion to declare an Irish Republic, free from British rule.

This event is known as the “Easter Rising” and the ensuing battle proceeded as you might expect. Despite the fact that Britain was heavily engaged in World War I at the time, the Empire gathered thousands of troops and routed the Irish volunteers after a brief confrontation.

The intriguing story is rife with drama – miscommunications and counter orders from competing Irish leaders to both fight and stand down, a captured German u-Boat that would have provided adequate weapons for the Irish side, and remarkable female heroines like the famed Countess Markievicz, who later became the first woman to be elected to the British House of Commons.

After the British executed the leaders of the Easter Rising rebellion (including my distant uncle, Sean MacDiarmada), the Irish people reacted in shock. The collective anger towards the perceived overreaction of the British, and ensuing revolution, led to the formal recognition of 26 counties that would become what we know today as the Republic of Ireland.

Our Featured Speakers

Two guest speakers, David O’longaigh and Chuck Duffy, from Portland’s chapter of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians discuss what they know about Ireland’s 1916 rebellion and its support base in Portland at the time.

They will also be previewing an event to be held at Kells on Sunday, April 24 that will include dramatic readings from Portland’s Corrib Irish Theatre and renditions of popular Irish folk songs.

 

Brush Up On Irish History In 8 Minutes

 

 

boiler room volunteers, patrons and staff

AM:PM PR’s Mike Phillips speaks at Boiler Room fundraiser

This past weekend I was a featured guest speaker at a fundraiser for the Boiler Room – a youth-oriented community coffeehouse in Port Townsend, Washington.

manresa castle port townsend

The event was held at the supposedly haunted Manresa Castle and raised more than $35,000 for the nonprofit.

As a 23-year-old college graduate I spent many days and nights at the Boiler Room working as a programs intern. I coordinated local musicians and traveling national and international acts for performances. That experience was one of my first forays into a career in public relations and I later leveraged it on my resume when applying for my first public relations job.

But something also worth highlighting is the way the Boiler Room encapsulates the idea of community. The Boiler Room was a safe place for me to spend my time as a teenager, and the only place open late into the evening for teens in that small town. At the Boiler Room I was exposed to new ideas, interesting thought leaders and life lessons that I may not have experienced otherwise.

Diverse local “alternative” cultures would congregate in the Boiler Room. Kids would be off in the corner writing journal entries to sort out their emotions, or logging the collective history of the venue. A young couple might be holding hands in the corner, an earthy woodsman might stride through the door trailed by the musk of a hard days labor. A wide-eyed hippie with homemade clothes and bare feet might frolic in to the sound of bells with a creative project tucked under one arm. And occasionally a yuppie couple on vacation from a neighboring city might wander in and be treated no different.

It’s funny to think about, but I’m the yuppie now.

I remember one Boiler Room regular in particular whose polished musical talents seemed to be on another level. When she played a prominent role on the soundtrack for the film Juno just a few years later, I was both blown away and not too surprised at the same time.

The Boiler Room was important to me because it provided an outlet to test and develop my own musical chops, something I was very passionate about at the time. First during open mic nights, and later during featured performances.

young mike p

The author at 23-years-old. Photo credit: Catska Ench

I recall one teachable moment when I was performing a new song of unrequited love with incredible misogynistic undertones. As I belted out my unfortunate lyrics, the great Phyl Sheridan (RIP) grabbed a plastic bowling pin and hurled it at the stage. After my performance he approached me and wrapped his arm around my shoulder and told me that I cannot talk like that about women, and gave a very convincing argument as to why. That moment was instrumental in the process of reshaping my worldview, retiring several songs, and was the type of experience that young men have in an environment where generations interact freely with older adult role models.

Congrats to the Boiler Room for all of its success. I’m excited for the continual value this organization will provide to the community in Port Townsend – helping kids to learn valuable life lessons and life skills; offering a safe, judgment-free space; enabling a venue where people may interact with their community; and even offering a foothold to future careers. Thank you to all of the adults who continue to act as mentors and role models for the next generation of Boiler Room kids.

If you’d like to donate, please click here.

san francisco international cannabis business conference

Cannabis Industry Experts Gather in San Francisco

A short preview of the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco this weekend.

Leading cannabis industry professionals, politicians and cultural leaders are gathering February 13 and 14 at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco for the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC).

I thought I’d take a moment to congratulate our friends at the conference for putting together another industry-leading lineup of experts, business leaders and cultural icons, including Andrew Sullivan and Tommy Chong, and recognize some of the great things occurring at the event this weekend.

Bipartisan Politics.


One of the more interesting panels this weekend features conservative California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and liberal Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer. The two are coming together for a panel to discuss the bipartisan effort to end cannabis prohibition in America. The panel will be lead by Anthony Johnson, the Content Director of the conference and the Chief Petitioner of the successful Measure 91 in Oregon. While the panel is likely to discuss the complex decisions and considerations regarding California’s legalization movement, the recent raids on cannabis businesses in San Diego may spur additional conversation about compliance with current regulations and law.

earl blumenauer cannabis

Other political leaders at ICBC include former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders and California Assembly Member Rob Bonta. For a full list of speakers, click here.

Super Bowl.

Just how big is the cannabis industry in California? A new report coming from the ARC View Group estimates that the current California marketplace is worth $1.5 billion. With San Francisco’s physical location to the state’s prime growing region, the ICBC’s well-managed networking component is ideal for cannapreneurs and small business owners.

A report produced last week estimates that Colorado’s marijuana industry is currently worth $1 billion. Combined with Oregon, Washington and Alaska it’s easy to recognize that now is the ideal time to get in on the ground floor of this industry.

For more numbers on the size of the cannabis industry, check out this piece from The Huffington Post.

International Cannabis Business.

Earlier this week, the ICBC announced that versus bringing leading international industry experts to their conferences in the United States, the ICBC will be expanding to international locales later this year including Vancouver, BC and Europe. Conference organizer Alex Rogers says he believes Berlin, and Germany specifically, are at a tipping point with regards to cannabis law reform.

For more on the International Cannabis Business Conference, visit their website at: internationalcbc.com

Game Industry by State

Mike Rogoway Covers Oregon’s Growing Game Industry [Next Speakeasy]

 

Next Speakeasy – February 3, 2016 – 4pm

A February 2015 Fortune article listed Oregon as the 8th most successful state for video game development, based upon jobs and revenues. A November 2014 report released by the Entertainment Software Association showed Oregon’s game industry added $111 million dollars to the state economy and ranks 9th in the nation for video game industry employment.

 

Oregonian Tech Reporter Mike Rogoway

Tech reporter, Mike Rogoway, discusses the Apple Watch launch with broadcast reporter, Jessica Greif, for the Oregonian.

What you’ll learn

The Oregonian’s Pulitzer-nominated reporter, Mike Rogoway, has been writing about the business of technology in the Portland area since 1998. He’ll offer his perspective on where Oregon’s video game industry is going and what role it plays in the Silicon Forest. He’ll also share what intrigues and what makes a compelling story as the Oregonian evolves into a more digital and interactive news source.

 

A quick primer before our eventESA essential facts about the video game industry

 

Gamescom.

Our collective interest in gaming was piqued when AM:PM PR’s Mike Phillips attended gamescom in August of 2015. gamescom is a video game industry convention in Cologne, Germany that had 345,000 attendees during a four-day stretch. Mike wrote about it here and has since created a Meetup group to explore unique marketing and communications opportunities and challenges in the industry.

Seeing Stars.

At gamescom, Mike learned startling facts about the size of the booming industry. Did you know it is bigger than Hollywood? Even more surprising, there are people with Cheetos-stained fingertips making hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, playing video games and narrating them on YouTube. In an earlier blog he noted YouTube’s prominent stature in the industry.

Gaming Celebrities.

Check out this interview with YouTube gaming star PewDiePie who recently appeared on Stephen Colbert. Or don’t. He’s obnoxious to most people over the age of 12, but intriguing because he has 42 million followers on the platform and his videos have had 11,035,674,427 views. That’s a lot of advertising revenue.

Considering a career shift?

Here’s a YouTube video featuring some of the richest video gamers.

Including Gamers in you Marketing Strategy.

New marketing research from Google demonstrates why gamers should be a part of your audience strategy.

Keeping It Local.

Local gaming industry groups exist to support developers, artists, small businesses and discuss marketing strategy. One of the more active groups is the Portland Indie Gaming Squad (or PIGsquad). This weekend Portland hosts the Cartoon Network Indie Game Jam.

Game On.

Game On is the Oregon Game Organization’s annual celebration of games and new technology. This year, OGO and TAO have teamed up to offer an exclusive, curated discussion of gamification, virtual, and mixed reality. Their next event is Thursday, February 11th.

 

 

Oregon Militia Dicks

Oregon Militia PR Tactics and Blunders – AM:PM PR’s Mike Phillips in The Guardian


If you want to be quoted, say something colorful.

(Reposted from The Guardian – January 13, 2016)

 

The Oregon militia’s bizarre PR tactics – from dildos to Facebook videos

Militiamen have attracted media coverage while occupying the Malheur wildlife refuge, but their disjointed social media messages have ‘created a big mess’

by Sam Levin

oregon militia guardian

The armed militiamen occupying a wildlife refuge in eastern Oregon have increasingly turned to a different weapon in their fight: social media.

Militia leader Ammon Bundy and his rightwing followers, who have been stationed at the headquarters of the Malheur national wildlife refuge since 2 January, have used Facebook, YouTube and live-stream videos to get their message out directly to the public and to call on anti-government activists to support their cause.

In the process, they’ve attracted significant media coverage from across the globe while also holding daily press briefings at the entrance to the refuge that draw huge crowds of hungry reporters each morning.

But their public relations strategy has repeatedly suffered from bizarre self-aggrandizing videos that rogue militiamen continue to post to their followers. The steady feed of rambling selfie videos have prompted widespread mockery and scorn and in some cases have clearly further distracted from the plight of Harney County ranchers whom the militia claim to be backing.

Most recently, militiaman Jon Ritzheimer, the prominent anti-Islam activist from Arizona, posted a Facebook video of himself opening hate mail sent to the refuge, including a box filled with dildos. “It’s really ridiculous. This one was really funny – a bag of dicks,” he said in the video before angrily shoving a bunch of packages off the table. “They just spend all their money on hate, hate, hate, hate!” he shouted.

The episode made the rounds on social media this week and became the subject of many gifs.

And on Tuesday, Oregon Public Broadcasting uncovered a video from an occupier named David Fry from Ohio, who filmed himself using government computers at the compound to create an “Oregon standoff” website.

The videos are the latest in a series of social media messages from numerous members of the Bundy bunch – footage that often captures long-winded and sometimes incoherent speeches that, at the very least, draw further support within rightwing online communities. They may have learned some lessons about how to garner consistent national news coverage from the standoff with the federal government in 2014, which was led by Ammon’s father, Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher.

But marketing and communications experts in Oregon who have closely followed the standoff, which has caused a major backlash in the nearby town of Burns, said the militia’s PR tactics were disjointed and chaotic and were only breeding further resentment from the people they purport to be helping.

“If they are trying to get America to pay attention to the grievances they have with federal laws, they are losing that battle,” said Mike Phillips, a public relations specialist with Portland firm AM:PM. “They do not have an effective spokesperson. Having so many people involved and so many people creating their own messaging on their own platforms … they’ve just created a big mess.”

Phillips pointed to Ritzheimer’s video as a clear example of how the militiamen were doing a poor job of drawing attention to complaints about the overreach of the federal government.

“He should not be a spokesperson,” Phillips said. “He’s created a huge distraction … and opened up an avenue for the media to pay attention to that. He’s also opened the door to receive more bags of dicks. It’s just kind of a cluster of craziness.”

At the very least, the use of social media has ramped up support within various conservative militia organizations and so-called “patriot” groups, which may be why more activists continue to flock to the occupation from across the country.

“There’s a significant amount of people in this movement using technologies to communicate with one another. It’s effective for that very small proportion of people,” Phillips said. “It’s probably a good technique to reach out to their core audience.”

The militia’s latest PR move was to announce a meeting in town on Friday, which will be the first time the militiamen leave the compound and formally meet with Burns residents. Given the huge pushback against the occupation from Harney County officials, the meeting is likely to further escalate tensions and draw more media attention to the questionable tactics of the militia.

“If they were going to do this over again, they probably would’ve been better served by building more of a coalition on the ground,” said Ward Hubbell, another public relations specialist based in Portland. “They didn’t really get permission from any stakeholders there to represent their interests.”

 

alex rogers heading

Alex Rogers featured at Oregon Business Magazine

The High Road

(reposted from Oregon Business Magazine – November/December 2015)

BY AMY MILSHTEIN

As CEO and owner of five different cannabis-related businesses generating a total net revenue of $2 million, Alex Rogers could sit back and ride the lucrative wave of Oregon’s burgeoning pot industry. But more than a pot entrepreneur, Rogers, 44, is firstly a marijuana activist. Since his incarceration in Berlin in 2009 for possession of marijuana, Rogers has dedicated his life to tuning in, turning on and changing the system from within. He has created two clinics, Ashland Alternative Health in Ashland and Northwest Alternative Health in Eugene, which issue medical-marijuana cards to over 6,000 patients a year. He also started the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference, the International Cannabis Business Conference and the website MarijuanaPolitics.com with a goal toward education and decriminalization. Rogers discusses growth, trends and Southern Oregon’s ganja gangster reputation.

photo credit: Oregon Business Magazine

photo credit: Oregon Business Magazine

You keep a lean empire

I only have 10 employees and a handful of independent contractors for the whole business. Most of them have worked for me for years. I pay them really well because it’s quality, not quantity. I’d rather have one star and pay that person well, because it’s good for the business.

Your two clinics help people obtain medical-marijuana cards but don’t dispense.

I would love to be a purveyor of cannabis, but I’m threatened because it’s still illegal federally. I went to prison in Germany and know the horrors of what can happen if you fall on the wrong side of the war on drugs. So just like the Gold Rush in California, there were the people who mined for gold and the people who sold the picks and axes. I’m selling the picks and axes.

How will recreational sales affect your card-issuing business?

My card business is booming! There are so many restrictions on recreational marijuana that it is pushing more people to get their cards. Cards will still be attractive because cannabis will not be taxed for medical use, and a card holder is allowed to grow and possess a lot more.

You also put on marijuana events. Why did you get into that line?

I have been doing events for 20 years. After the medical dispensary laws passed a few years ago, I saw a need for the community to receive good, clear information about the changes in the law. Each event changes according to the new laws. They’re attended by growers, investors, processors, retail folks and folks who have not traditionally been in the cannabis space, who want to be part of a burgeoning industry. About half of my $2 million yearly revenue comes from these events.

What differentiates your pot conferences and expos from all the others?

People are jumping on the bandwagon, but there’s no conference like mine. If I’m going to make people sit at the edge of their seat for two days, I have to be great at keeping their attention. I get fun, dynamic, engaging speakers like Andrew Sullivan; Dr. Carl Hart, known for his research in drug addiction and abuse; and Rick Steves. I’ll also throw in a free event like a concert.

Where are the growth sectors in this industry?

Value-added products are trending so fast, it’s insane. A strain is a strain is a strain, and it will be as good as the grower, but when you take that marijuana and turn it into something — a tincture, a pizza sauce, a lotion, syrup or pill — then you can brand that product and build loyalty. The challenge is everything has to be vertically integrated. So if you create a successful brand in Oregon and you want to bring it to another state, you have to vertically integrate in the state. You can’t make the product in Oregon, warehouse it in Colorado and sell it in Washington. That’s prohibited. I’m not boohoo-ing here; I don’t see these things as barriers. I see them as bumps. Still, I think the rules should change because that would be good and safe for society.

Are any other industries benefiting?

Sure. The people who make the glass cases for dispensaries are busy. And the CO2 machines that extract cannabis oil are impossible to buy right now. Even my website, MarijuanaPolitics.com, sees 250,000 people a month, so I’m trying to come up with different ways to monetize it. I’m selling ad space, but I’m also doing other nontraditional things that I don’t want to talk about yet.

President Obama made it clear that the government wouldn’t interfere with state-sanctioned marijuana. But what about the next president?

Regime change is always going to be a factor. But look at all of the money that’s being generated. Even if there’s a change at the top and the new person in charge is against the cannabis business, it would be hard to deny Colorado or Washington all of that new tax money. If you tried to take away $100 million in tax revenue, you would be looking at a civil uprising.

You feel strongly about decriminalizing marijuana.

I think we should decriminalize all drugs. The philosophy of prohibition just doesn’t work. Criminalizing just adds to its allure and creates more crime. I’m an activist at heart. I wouldn’t push a policy that doesn’t benefit the whole community. That’s what separates our business from others in the industry. We’re astute business folks for sure, but we’re also freedom fighters, fighting for liberty and the American Dream. We see legal cannabis as fueling a new age.

That’s a big goal…

I’ve been an activist for 20 years. We thought the whole world was going to be different, like Star Trek. But it’s been usurped by the “American business model,” and you’re a [wimp] if you think about treating people in an egalitarian way. Unfortunately, that’s the American business narrative. For the piece we control, we’re into human rights and respect, and the money is secondary.

What part does Southern Oregon play in this narrative?

Everyone thinks that Southern Oregon is filled with ganja gangsters. That’s the rap we get, whether it’s true or not. But when medical marijuana was legalized, I saw “outlaw” growers come out of the closet. The minute they had the chance, hardworking family farmers became part of the legal system. They’re paying taxes and it’s heartening to see.

This is about empowering the small family farmer; it’s about liberty. There are lobbying forces from Portland and beyond that want to take the small business owner out, and monopolize everything. When Measure 91 came out, it was $1,000 for a license; now they want it to be more than $10,000. That’s too much for a small farmer. That’s evil greed.

Some Oregon cities and counties are opting out of recreational marijuana. What does that mean for them?

Places that opt out are missing the chance to create public policy in their community that’s congruent with what’s going on in their community. People use pot. Medical marijuana is thriving. They are missing the chance for a safer, more productive community. And they will miss the tax revenue for sure.

Where do you see the marijuana business in Oregon’s economy?

We have a great opportunity in Oregon to capitalize on this new legal industry before other states follow (which they will). We can capitalize on tourism and out-of-state folks coming here to indulge in something they could only dream about being legal in their respective states.

finding bosnia header

Finding Bosnia Screening, Clinton Street Theater

Independently Produced Film Is Four Years in the Making

Finding Bosnia Official Trailer from LLAMAMAMA on Vimeo.

My friend Ivana Horvat was four-years-old when she escaped the besieged capitol of Sarajevo with her mother during the Bosnian War, at one point crawling under a two-foot wall to escape a barrage of sniper gunfire from the Chetnik-aggressors. While Ivana and her mother escaped, her father and many of her other relatives stayed behind to endure a war that would ruthlessly take over 100,000 lives during the course of nearly four years.

To make her film, Finding Bosnia, Ivana teamed up with my other friend, Adrian Hopffgarten, the co-owner of her production company, LLAMAMAMA Productions, and returned to Bosnia 20 years later to re-discover the family, city and culture that Ivana unknowingly left behind as a toddler.

Ivana and Adrian will host a special fundraiser and their first Portland screening of Finding Bosnia at the Clinton Street Theater (2522 SE Clinton) this Sunday, October 11 at 3:00 p.m. The screening will raise money to fund festival submissions and distribution. Admission is a suggested $10 donation. Doors open at 2:30 p.m.

IvanaHorvat

Ivana grew up in Portland, but has said she always felt a disconnect between her American identity and Bosnian identity. Her grandparents and many other relatives remained in Bosnia during the war. Her parents would speak Bosnian at home. She knew she was Bosnian, but didn’t really know what it meant to be Bosnian. This film is a fun, educational and entertaining trip along with Ivana and Adrian as they embark on a journey to discover Ivana’s Bosnian roots for the first time.

In August I happened to be in Sarajevo, Bosnia as they screened “Finding Bosnia” for the first time at the Sarajevo Film Festival. As readers of this blog have noted, I’ve had an interest in Bosnia for the past decade that began after reading a remarkable memoir titled “Fools Rush In” by Bill Carter, which I consider to be the most influential event of my personal life in the past decade.

Finding Bosnia is fantastic, and captures a special moment in Ivana’s life. It’s especially interesting given the discussion the world has been having about refugees in light of the Syrian conflict. Ivana is just one of the Bosnian War refugees that I’ve befriended during the past couple of years, and it’s my opinion that Portland is a much richer community for all of them.

After the screening in Bosnia, their film received a standing ovation from the predominantly Bosnian audience. Hopffgarten says the response was wonderful validation for the countless hours of effort she spent ensuring every political detail from the immensely complicated conflict was properly vetted. I was impressed with their stop-motion skills, and the production and storytelling too. The Bosnian friends I attended the screening with had nothing but positive comments about the screening.

ivana i adrian

Ivana and Adrian at the sold-out screening of Finding Bosnia, Sarajevo Film Festival

Ivana says she hopes Finding Bosnia demonstrates that Bosnia is much more than a sad war-torn country and she’s excited to reach other people who have grown up living between two cultures as refugees. She hopes her personal story will shed light on what it means to be a refugee with a lost identity.

After the screening there will be a short Q&A with the directors, with a reception to follow at The Lucky Horseshoe Lounge next door. For more information visit findingbosnia.com or post questions to this blog.

ABOUT THE FILM
Finding Bosnia presents an intimate and personal journey of a Bosnian war refugee raised in Portland, Oregon who seeks to reclaim her Bosnian culture and identity. Ivana Horvat makes it her goal to create her own “Bosnia” by returning to her hometown, and interviewing other Bosnian refugees from around the world. Home video footage and stories of various generations of Bosnians, within and outside of the country, create a bridge into her Bosnia; a place where she finally feels like she belongs. FINDING BOSNIA’s world premiere was at the Sarajevo Film Festival in August 2015.

ABOUT IVANA

Ivana Horvat fled Sarajevo as a young child leaving her father, family, and city behind. After living in Germany and Malaysia, she was reunited with her father a few years later and has lived in Portland, Oregon since. Her mother and her father, Tanja and Nino Horvat, took turns capturing home videos of their new life together in Portland and twenty years later, their footage has become a lens with which Ivana can watch her transition from being a young Bosnian child to an American woman. In 2012, she returned to live in Bosnia for seven months to explore a life that could have been.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Ivana Horvat: ivana14horvat (at) gmail (dot) com
LlamaMama Productions Website: llamamama.video
Website: www.findingbosnia.com
Trailer: https://vimeo.com/134660931
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Finding-Bosnia-253603951374603
Twitter: https://twitter.com/findingbosnia

gamescom cover

gamescom 2015 – Observations on the Business of Gaming & Worldwide Fandom

 

My re-intro to video games after 12 years –

The computer and video gaming industry explosion on display for 345,000

 

Beanbag chilling gamers from around the world at games con 2015

 

The last time I got really excited about a video game was in college when I zoned out on HALO, only to emerge from my apartment three weeks later like a frail ghostly prisoner freed from a medieval dungeon. It was then that I realized my personality type was not a good fit for gaming and I haven’t been more than an occasional ‘user’ ever since.

That said, in early August I attended an event in Cologne (Köhn) Germany called gamescom. gamescom is a video game tradeshow and it’s the largest tradeshow I’ve ever attended. It also seemed to have the largest average booth budgets.

To help you picture the size of the event and numbers it attracted – 345,000 is more than the population of St. Louis, Missouri. At times, it felt like that whole population was crammed into one hall.

 

What was I doing there?

 

 

I was invited to assist at a booth run by my stepfather for his organization One Redmond, and their sub-organization called the Washington Interactive Network. The booth was shared with an economic development organization from neighboring Bellevue, and the booth hosted six indie gaming companies from the Bellevue/Redmond, Washington area that opened up their consoles to the hordes of kids (and adults) that passed by each day. One Redmond’s overarching goal was to attract European gaming companies to the city of Redmond by demonstrating its extensive local indie gaming industry, local talent and quality of life. Hosting businesses like Microsoft, Nintendo and SpaceX doesn’t hurt their cause either. I’ll vouch for the area.

 

 

Gaming revenue greater than Hollywood

 

games con fans cheer entertainers

Entertainers create excitement for a farming simulator and free t-shirts

 

gamescom opened my eyes to the size and extent of the industry – one that had somehow remained on the periphery of my day to day thought despite its commanding presence in the media. One insider casually mentioned to me that the gaming industry raked in more money in the first 8 months of this year than the film industry in all of last year. A quick internet search shows experts predict gaming to be a $100 billion dollar industry within three years.

I saw mammoth companies I’d never heard of – including wargaming.net, Bethesda Softworks, Ubisoft, crytek, Blizzard. My childhood self would have loved to happen upon a Sierra Entertainment booth. They were the makers of a mainstay of my adolescence – Kings Quest. Alas, I was unable to find them in the ten halls of the show and through the hordes of gamers.

Booths at gamescom were enormous and many featured stages occupied by their own tee shirt tossing MC’s. You may expect a popular and wildly interactive company like Rockstar Games to garner a cheering crowd, but I was surprised when even a farming simulator had throngs of kids cheering and screaming for projectiles tossed by a dirndl-clad German gal.

wargaming.net also had a large stage flanked by screaming throngs of kids (and adults) as serious-looking synchronized dancers dressed in military garb moved their hips or twisted LED lit swords to inspired movements.

Many of the more violent games had completely enclosed booths with marketing-plastered walls stretching towards the ceiling and preventing younger kids from catching a glimpse of the more graphic content inside (or maybe just keeping the crowd moving along in an orderly fashion?).

Kids waited in line for hours to simply watch trailers for upcoming video game releases. Unfortunately, I did not partake in said activity, so I do not have a detailed report for you.

 

 

YouTube is the SportsCenter of gaming

 

Kids flocking to the YouTube gamescom booth

Kids flocking to the YouTube gamescom booth

 

A huge player in the gaming industry, YouTube’s booth at gamescom had taken on the vibe of a SportsCenter broadcasting booth.

Don’t believe me? Feast your eyes upon this link: https://gaming.youtube.com

I got my first look at YouTube’s influence on gaming last summer when I noticed my 11-year-old cousin was spending much of his vacation time at Yellowstone National Park watching YouTube videos… of other kids… playing video games.

I had a surreal moment while standing at the YouTube booth when I realized I was watching an entire horde of kids (sprinkled with those wearing “free hug” signs – what is up with that trend???) whose eyes were transfixed on giant screens where they watched other kids playing video games.

I’ve since learned there are professional video game players who pull in over a million dollars per year. For a good cry, check out this list of top earners.

For another good cry, check out this story from KING 5 News in Seattle about a guy named Bacon Donut (@bacondonutTV), working for a company called n3rdfusion who plays a game called Minecraft all day – FOR A LIVING!

And, here I thought Joey Chestnut had the best job in the world.

For a good laugh, check out this segment of Jimmy Kimmel being educated by kids on gaming.

 

 

Gaming trade delegations

 

Of the many halls at the event (I believe there were 10 total) one of the more interesting halls (due to interesting conversation) had trade delegations representing gaming regions, including: China, Britain, France, Iran, Croatia, Germany, Austria, Canada, South Korea, Italy, etc. I met people from Russia, Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, Greece, Spain, Switzerland and Japan. Oregon was not represented…

 

 

Interesting marketing campaigns

 

fallout marketing campaign

fallout marketing campaign

 

The organization representing Belgium were perhaps the most savvy marketers of their region. They combined information about their gaming industry while bribing people to linger using their other most popular export – beer (well, most popular after waffles, of course). It was hard to compete with free beer, and it might be a good idea to file away for future businesses representing the Pacific NW at trade shows, as Northwest IPA’s seem to have captured the imagination of the Euro pals I’d met.

One of my favorite marketing campaigns was for a game I’ve never played, nor ever even heard of – Fallout 4. The game is a violent post-apocalyptic romp around a world after a nuclear holocaust, but their logo is a smiling winking blonde-haired kid flashing a thumbs up hand sign. His little face was displayed on billboards all over the city of Cologne throughout the week I was there. At one Fallout booth fans could get their hair dyed yellow to mimic the cartoon kid. I saw many full-grown adult men have their head, beards and mustaches colored yellow – and they didn’t even seem to be embarrassed to walk around the town as such.

 

 

New avenues for revenue

 

While it was fun to see kids dressed in favorite costumes, it was equally fun exploring booths in the business hall. Supplemental supporting companies exist for every facet of production. For example, I met one man from China whose studio designed artwork for gaming companies.

An interesting challenge I learned of – the transfer of money isn’t as fluid in Europe as it is in the United States (as evidenced in the numerous businesses in Germany including restaurants and grocery stores that did not accept my Visa credit or debit cards).

Several European companies offer services to North American indie gaming companies who need help navigating European rules and regulations for commerce. These companies also find clients new revenue streams in different mediums (apps, websites, ads, etc) in each of the different European countries and on different online platforms.

As the week at gamescom wrapped up, I marveled at how fun it was getting a sneak peek into an industry with so much creative talent working together to create new and unique forms of entertainment – from the games on down to the booths that promote them.

 

 

I hope you enjoy the photos and videos!