In this conversation, Todd Wheatland sat down with Barry Poltermann, President of About Face Media. Barry and his team use their background of documentary-style filmmaking to create interesting and unique visual stories for brands all over the world. Employee stories like this challenge documentary from 3M and customer stories like Stefano’s for Tesla Motors show how About Face Media brings the authentic emotion of a documentary-style film to content marketing.
What may surprise you
Barry may be living the glamorous life of a documentary filmmaker today, but he comes from humble beginnings. Here are a few things that may surprise you about Barry Poltermann:
- Barry was a Wisconsin farm boy. He grew up on a farm in Genoa City, Wisconsin and, yes, he milked cows. He knew at the age of five that he wanted to make movies. He would film short movies on the farm with his Super 8 camera.
- In the early dotcom days of the internet, the SEC required individuals to be licensed with the SEC if they wanted to use the web to raise money. To do this for movies he was working on, Barry had to get his Series 7, 63 and 24 licenses.
- His movie, Aswang, was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994. This film opened the door to the commercial production business.
- Barry edited the Sundance grand-prize-winning documentary, American Movie, which has been named by The New York Times as one of the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made. The International Documentary Association named it one of the Top 20 documentaries of all time.
Barry’s journey from Wisconsin farm boy to filmmaker would land him in Los Angeles in 1998. As with so many others who have a plan, events outside of his control changed everything.
- Shortly after his move to Los Angeles, the dotcom crash happened, forcing Barry to re-evaluate his career plan. He had been working for Civilian Pictures, a film financing company that used the internet to raise funds for movies. When the internet bubble collapsed, so did Civilian.com. Barry ultimately decided to start a company designed to service companies that needed content for alternative reality games and web marketing projects. This company would evolve into About Face Media.
Telling an intrinsically compelling story
Barry believes a story is at the heart of true content marketing. It’s not an ad or a pre-roll, it’s something that he defines as “voluntary engagement.” If your company is producing content that has a compelling story, the audience will look for it, take it in and pass it on. Your audience will be emotionally connected to the story and want to share that connection with family and friends. In Barry’s words:
Content marketing is when you create something that the person out there is looking for and wants to watch, and then see if they’re excited to share it the same way they would if it was a movie, a TV series, a video, or anything else they chose to watch.
Listen to Todd’s full interview with Barry Poltermann here: