Colony Bay TV

Branding With A Hot Iron

June 15, 2012 James Riley

Branding it HotWe had a meeting this week with a distributor/producer who seemed to know her business and her market, (“faith/inspiration”), very well.  She said very early on she had an idea for an entertainment “brand,” along with the right people to produce it.  By all appearances, she’s doing very well.

Does “Courage, New Hampshire” and “Colony Bay” have a brand?

I know there are marketing types who can ruminate with more precision on this subject, but my sense of “brand” is a signature that declares essential ingredients.  A Coen Brothers movie is going to be funny, disturbing, irreverent, a little brainy and ironic. An HBO drama is going to have enormous stretches of skin, profanity, and irreverence, but enough story and intelligence to make it attractive. AMC’s logo is “story matters here,” and    you can tell, they put a lot more into story, than say, ABC, NBC, or CBS. A Frank Capra movie is likely to be about some small every-man finding justice by appealing to the better angels of our nature.

At Colony Bay, from the very beginning we have always wanted to tell a story that combines the pace and narrative tension of a good mob movie with the redemptive world view of a Frank Capra and a little dash of high-brow BBC authenticity.  That sounds very strange to some, but there’s a reason behind it.   As I have written countless times “faith and family” films tend to be — putting it positively — worship experiences.  There’s nothing wrong with a worship experience.  They take place in sanctuaries.  It’s safe.  It’s peaceful. You might hear the angels.   You will never hear a curse word or have to ponder a disturbing challenge.  The music will be grand.

But that isn’t a story, even the ones that claim to be breaking out of the altar call formulation of many Christian films.  Stories have dramatic problems. A story is Jesus going into the wilderness “to be tempted.” A story is a bunch of brothers who get sick of how much their father loves the baby brother. They sell him to slave traders. His boss’s wife tries to pull his clothing off. He goes to prison and tells one of his fellow prisoners the king is going to pardon him, but he tells the other one — he’s going to die.  He gets rich and becomes second in command of the kingdom. His brothers come back to see him. He tests them to see if they have changed. When he discovers they have, he falls on their necks and weeps.

THAT is a story.

People of faith — and perhaps more importantly, people who need faith — deserve those kind of stories, real stories, gritty stories, romantic stories, violent stories, stories of temptation and triumph and justice.  (There’s a reason why we cheer on Tony Soprano when he brutally compensates a thug who insulted his daughter.) Our own age is so weak, so cowardly, so procedural, so Freudian, that, at Colony Bay, we thought a previous century or two might be necessary to make the narratives credible.  My basic sense of 18th century Christianity is that it’s more alive, more manly, more likely to dance, have a glass of wine, crack the Bible, and more likely to stick a pistol in the face of a villain.  At the same time, it is far more righteous, more redemptive, more likely to honor both a deal and the Sabbath.  As we’ve said, “bad stories” aren’t “bad” because someone bleeds, they are bad because no one leads.

With that in mind, we need “branding iron hot” words that both identify those ingredients and force the audience to ponder them:

COURAGE, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Pray, Ponder, Pull the Trigger

COURAGE, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Temptation, Election, Redemption

COURAGE, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Rum, Prayer and Gun Powder

COURAGE, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Some Crusades are Necessary


COURAGE, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Keeping the bloody peace

COURAGE, NEW HAMPSHIRE: They were Sinners. They were also Saints.






Next Blog: