BUILDING A BRAND
A nine year love story of Lodge
WITH EMOTIONAL TEETH
and the Indy FIlm Fest
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Way, way, way back in the past, there was a year known as 2009. Close your eyes and you might be able to muster up a memory of it. The uncertainty of a recession gripped the nation. H1N1 was breaking out all over. The King of Pop sent up his last earthly “Shamone!” We were a people in need of something new.
In 2009, while our friends in southeastern Asia experienced the longest recorded solar eclipse of the modern era (6 minutes and 38.8 seconds, to be precise), Indianapolis faced an astronomical event of its own. For that was the year Lodge and the Indy Film Fest came into cosmic alignment. Rather than shrouding people in nearly 7 minutes of darkness, the partnership between these two celestial bodies would saturate the city’s film-loving community in glorious light.
2009 was a period of transition for Lodge. After a decade in business, we were motivated by a new rallying cry: I BELIEVE IN OUR VICTORY. We saw an opportunity to invest our skills and outsider sensibilities in the continued success of our city. Let’s reach out to our city’s cultural assets, we thought. Let’s play a part in shaping the events and organizations in our community. Let’s magnify the things we love about living in this great city
Around this time, Indy Film Fest was going through a transition of its own. They wanted the chance to tell their story in a fresh new way. Having taken note of Lodge’s newfound community spirit, they called and asked if we’d be willing to help. We’d never tackled an entire film festival before, but our response was pure I BELIEVE IN OUR VICTORY: hell yes. We’re up for the challenge.
Over the years, we’ve gone through two rebrands, including a name change in 2014 to better serve the evolving programming and marketing strategy for the Indy Film Fest and its year-round mission to serve a loyal film-loving base of Fest fans.
How do you promote films most people haven’t heard of? How do you encourage an audience to commit to attending screenings of unknown films by unknown directors? The Indy Film Fest was successful in its own right, drawing a small but dedicated crowd of film buffs. To communicate the event’s appeal and broaden its base, we’d have to think BIG. Throughout its five-year history, the Indy Film Fest team had been scrappy, well-organized and tireless in their efforts to create compelling audience experiences. We pride ourselves on a similar approach to brand storytelling. We rolled up our sleeves and got to work.
When we first met the Indianapolis International Film Fest team, they were a small but mighty team of film buffs. These were people who LOVED independent film and pursued their hobby passionately. When Lodge started brainstorming creative approaches to its first Fest, we knew there was potential to open the event to a wider audience without losing the authentic core of what the event had been
How do you communicate all the magic and excitement of a film festival to people who enjoy films but aren't quite "buffs"? For our first go at it, we used bright imagery from standout films. Then we added words. Lots of 'em. These words were more than a plot summary. They described how an audience member might FEEL when they saw these films. This text-heavy approach combined with an updated brand mark helped Indianapolis audiences consider this film fest in a whole new light.
Words brought things to life for new audiences in our first year. For the second, we wanted to create something more dimensional. The Lodge team cut out printed artwork and created a series of immersive dioramas that captured the breadth and diversity of our film lineup. This approach captured what Lodge does best: creating something unique that blends artistry with brand storytelling and a polished final product.
This campaign also helped us convey the quirkiness and incomparable experience of the IIFF. For 10 oh-so-humid days in July, audiences could come together with other film lovers and escape into worlds outside of their own.
Do you attend a film festival to watch films? Sure! But you also go for a lot of other reasons: communal experiences, fun parties and memories that can't be replaced or replicated. Our Color Blocks campaign tapped into the energy of all these other Festival elements. We used a colorful approach focused less on marketing individual films and more on capturing the essence of what makes a Fest so fantastic.
The flat design and crisp illustration of this campaign stood in stark contrast to the whimsical hand-cut dioramas of the prior year. We wanted the new look to catch eyes, and it worked. Audiences were growing year after year, and audience members were more engaged than ever.
Those of us who are creative types have often been told to get our head out of the clouds and stop dreaming. Come back to reality. This campaign aimed to turn this idea on its, well...head! We invited audience members to escape, losing themselves in the experience of watching first-run independent films.
With this iteration of the annual 10-day festival, Indianapolis International Film Festival became Indy Film Fest. With the same dedication to creating shared experiences around film and a reverence for indie movies that bordered on awe, our little Fest took a turn in a more lighthearted approach with even broader audience appeal.
By 2013, Indy Film Fest had evolved into an event with a personality all its own. What better way to tell that story than with a mythical, magical personality who leads audiences on new film journeys. Filmsquatch was more than a mascot for that year's Fest. He was an embodiment of all that makes this event so exciting and so well-loved by attendees.
You'll still find a lot of love (and a little nostalgia) for Filmsquatch around Lodge HQ. We remember him fondly as a quirky character who showed us why film festivals are just so darn fun.
What's left to explore after following the Filmsquatch to glory? A lot, it turns out! For our 2014 festival, we asked ourselves how we could give audiences MORE. After a full decade of Indy Film Fest, how could we exceed expectations? What could we do to give audiences more than they are accustomed to?
Being able to rub elbows with filmmakers is one of the coolest and most memorable parts of the film festival experience. We focused our efforts on bringing more creators to this festival, allowing audience members to watch a first-run film, then connect with its creators in person. A generous and enthusiastically received Kickstarter campaign allowed us to accomodate innovative filmmakers from all over the globe.
For 6 years of our relationship with Indy Film Fest, we created a unique campaign each year. This allowed us to keep things fresh and follow big new ideas. It also spurred us on to consider a different approach. Could more consistency allow us to further build brand equity?
Using bold typography and color-saturated photos that put our fair city front-and-center, we created a look and feel that could expand to fit multiple Fests. Using this framework, we've captured the dazzling, kinetic energy of a film festival from its innovation (NOW SHOWING, 2015) to its sex appeal (SUMMER FLING, 2017) and so many things in-between.
After a few years, it was obvious that Indy Film Fest was ready to grow beyond its roots as a 10-day Festival. We helped the organization expand into a packed year-round calendar of screenings and events. Today, audiences delight in the unique and unexpected locations of Roving Cinema screenings. People get into the groove at our Rock+Reel events, which feature movies about music. Families come together to nosh on a sweet bite of Saturday morning nostalgia with our Cereal Cinema screenings. Breakfast and a film the whole family can enjoy! And grown-ups dine in gourmet fashion at our Film to Fork series of screenings.
We came up with the idea for the BIGGER PICTURE SHOW fundraiser back in 2010 as an opportunity to bring together a community of designers and illustrators whose work we loved and admired. Every year, we invite local designers to re-imagine classic (and not-so classic) movie posters that are sold in a silent auction, with all proceeds going to the Indy Film Fest. In the last eight years, we've raised more than $30,000 for the festival.
We hosted our first “Big Picture Show” in Fountain Square, with 25 participating artists.
For our second year, we moved the Show out to the Service Center on the city’s west side and added a DJ and a food truck to spin the records and serve up some yumminess in the form of hot Italian sandwiches.
For this year’s Show, we wanted to celebrate the writerly minds who reimagined existing plays, stories and novels as entirely new film scripts of their own. Stories with real guts, that weren’t afraid to reach out and punch us in our throats. From Percy Heath’s DR. JEKYL AND MR. HYDE to Aaron Sorkin’s MONEYBALL, this year’s posters were from films that had been nominated as a best adapted screenplay by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
In 2013, we asked ourselves a simple question: Can we make it around the horn and back again threading together films that have shaped our movie-going lives through the work of one actor (with Hoosier roots) who claims to be doing the best he can with what he has? We did it. We made 50 Degrees of Greg Kinnear.
From the “Adventures of Robin Hood” to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” the fifth annual Bigger Picture Show celebrated films from our five favorite decades of cinema—the thirties, fifties, seventies, eighties and nineties. We called it FIVE FOR FIVE.
This year’s show had a little something for everyone: cars, monsters, boats, tramps, lieutenants, t-tops, assassins, candy, dudes, captains, computer-peoples, artists, tributes, dorks, jedis, rats and even a faun thrown in for good measure. Yup. We asked our designer-artist friends to create a portrait of their favorite movie characters. And boy, did they give us way more than we ever imagined!
For our seventh outing, we explored the 7 DEADLY SINS as seen through the lens of 68 filmmakers. For the first time in the event's history, posters were grouped thematically, with a portion of the gallery dedicated to each sin. From the gutting greed of THE WOLF OF WALL STREET to the snark-drenched sloth of THE BREAKFAST CLUB, this show explored the cinematic side of what feels so good about being bad.
More artists than ever before. A bigger venue. And a theme that was louder than ever. BIGGER PICTURE SHOW 8-TRAX had attendees feeling the beat, celebrating movies with music. From the funk-nasty psychedelia of PURPLE RAIN to the relentless thrum of 8 MILE all the way to the colorful Cockney of MY FAIR LADY, there was a tune in this songbook for everyone.
When we created our I BELIEVE IN OUR VICTORY mission, we had no idea where it would take us. As you’ve seen here, it took us places wilder than our wildest dreams. We’re proud this work has helped us become a vital asset to our community.
We didn’t set out to dramatically re-envision the Indy Film Fest. We just helped them tell an authentic story about who they are and what they believe in. Throughout this process, we’ve been able to see them grow from a small but dedicated gathering of film fans to a year-round cinematastic destination for filmmaker meet-and-greets, super-fun parties and first-run indie films of the highest caliber. It’s a story we’re eager to tell long into the future.