Featured image from Art Montana winning film, “Breaking Point.”
The Audience Awards’ Art Montana competition, has been the most successful competition on the site to date, reeling in over 160,000 total views and exactly 50,000 votes. What about the competition made it so successful? Was it the enthusiasm of the audience, the engagement of the filmmakers or the prize incentive, which totaled $8,500? The winning filmmakers; 1st place, Soundcolor Studios; 2nd place, Whitney Skauge and 3rd place, Michael Workman– also winner of the Grand Jury Prize, are here to speak about their experience competing in Art Montana, the competition that highlighted a breadth of Montana artists.
How did you promote yourself in the moments before and during the competition?
Soundcolor Studios, of Breaking Point: Soundcolor Studios has a very solid fan base- and by fans, I mean friends. We have new people stopping by our Livingston location all the time just because they heard about what is going on there. A lot of friends who support what we do there, rallied their friends who rallied even more friends. I have worked both in front of and behind the camera for the last 12 years, filming on location all over the world. I have had a few shows internationally and have built up a solid fan base and following both in my art and film. So it wasn’t just this competition, we have been working very hard and devoting ourselves to film and the arts for years. It was all that hard work, and earning a solid reputation that built the fan base that made this happen.
Whitney Skauge, of Wrinkles: Facebook and Instagram were huge during the competition. We promoted heavily on Facebook with posts and people shared our link way more than I expected. I made a post on Instagram about every other day featuring Wrinkles and ran the hashtag “votewrinkles”. We also created a secret group on Facebook with about 300 people in it. This is a place where we posted a lot of reminders for people to vote. Aside from social media, word of mouth was our biggest way to promote the film.
Michael Workman, of Constructed Situations: We promoted mainly by word of mouth, with minimal facebook posts. We also hosted a screening at a first friday event in [the featured artist] Jack’s studio.
What was your overall experience on The Audience Awards?
Soundcolor: It was interesting, and exhausting. This was our first competition, and it was actually a ton of work. We had people helping us promote around the clock in every major city around the country and on social media. With the help of colleagues from the film industry we were reaching over half a million people. We were very impressed with how the other films did so well.
Skauge: Overall I’m really thankful to the Audience Awards for giving me this opportunity.
Workman: Interesting to say the least. It’s definitely an odd feeling to have to promote yourself so heavily and it’s hard to ask your friends to make the commitment to vote everyday. Some of the ways the competition was structured did not always seem fair to everyone who entered, but its all a learning experience.
Why did you chose to make a film about your particular artist?
Soundcolor: Abram Boise [featured artist in Breaking Point] was building his sculpture for a show in Shanghai, and didn’t want to have to explain his art “If I could explain it in words, I wouldn’t have to build it. My art speaks for itself.”
Director, Thomas Vincent is really visionary when it comes to video and film. He is progressing the art, not just following someone else’s formula. After working on our first project with Thomas, and seeing the shots he was getting, we immediately wanted to bring him onto another project.
Thomas’ style and background in ski films complimented the ideals of the artist, and the two just worked very well together.
Skauge: I’ve been friends with The Wrinkles boys for about two years. There was a window of time where they had three shows back to back. This doesn’t happen very often so I jumped on the opportunity. The whole thing just naturally fell into place.
Workman: I think Jack Metcalf is one of the most interesting, exciting and hardworking artists in Montana. His work is so fun and bizarre but at the same time it can be profound. He is also a close friend and collaborator of mine so the access was easy and there is a lot of trust between us.
What do you want the audience to take away from your film?
Soundcolor: We hope it just inspires in some way, or makes you question what we are doing. The bottom line is that art should provoke a response within the audience. We love hearing interpretations of what the artist was doing and why.
What are you going to do with the money?
Soundcolor: We are going to award AJ Scaff (another contestant from Livingston, also in the Art Montana competition) $500 to help him complete his documentary. The rest will be budgeted for new film and audio equipment, and new projects that will promote the arts in Livingston.
Skauge: Wrinkles and I are splitting the prize money. I plan on putting mine into savings. Wrinkles is going to use it to record their first EP! Way exciting.
Workman: It’s going right back into funding our next film.
What’s your next project?
Soundcolor: There are a number of projects currently coming out of Soundcolor Studios. Abram is scheduled to be back in Shanghai for another art show, and has been commissioned to design an art musuem over there. He is working on the designs and scale models at the studio now. The Montana Department of Commerce has also asked us to film a documentary about the art and cultural exchanges from these trips. We also have a new series that will be filmed entirely in Montana, and are in the developmental stage with Vice right now for one of our other original series, but thats just the tip of the iceberg.
Skauge: I’m producing a film called Bygones, written and directed by Lane Brown. It’s a short film and story within a story about forgiveness.
Workman: Sean Rudolf and I have a few projects in the conceptual phase right now. One is a short documentary on Ed Morrissey, who works in the University of Montana School of Art. We have an international short documentary in the works that we will be shooting next year but it is too early to talk about it yet.
What currently inspires you?
Soundcolor: Everything. I love being alive. We often get caught up in so many details that don’t really matter. In the end you have to let it all go, and all the things you thought mattered so much, will likely not matter at all. The important thing is to remember that your are alive, and what a rare and beautiful experience it is.
Workman: Other people that create interesting and cutting edge art.