Gita Pullapilly and Aron Gaudet are the filmmaking team behind the deeply moving documentary THE WAY WE GET BY (2009). A first doc feature for them both, Aron and Gita had a tremendous amount of success with the film including prestigious grant support, a special PBS broadcast through P.O.V., and numerous awards at festivals.
However the attention they received for this film was not limited to the artistry of their production. Aron and Gita are the poster children for the new generation of entrepreneurial independent filmmakers. They were among the pioneers of crowdfunding, using a combination of social media and traditional meet and greets to the film’s benefit. They did an incredible amount of community building around the film; developing their audience as they shot, researched, and edited the piece. And in all of this, they tracked their progress transparently, sharing their learning openly with other independents like them.
Well, this incredible Maine-based team is at it again. Gita and Aron are working on their first fiction feature film, BLUE POTATO. BLUE POTATO tells the story of a teenager working his final potato harvest, trying to earn enough money to escape his small town. Leave it to Gita and Aron to challenge themselves to reach beyond the creative impulse and see what new bridges they can build for independents looking for new ways to get their projects financed. With Blue Potato, they are working with the Harvard Business School to think about business models that allow independent productions to work with boutique studios, reducing risk and maximizing profit for both entities. Additionally, they are partnering with Hain Celestial, maker of Terra Blue Potato Chips. While product placement is well-worn practice of Hollywood, a relationship like this between a small independent production and a company like Hain is rare.
Just the words “product placement” are enough to make me bristle when considering the integrity of the filmmakers I work with every day. It was heartening to read this piece in a recent interview posted on the Blue Potato website with Jared Simon from Hain Celestial about the company’s involvement:
What I would say is, the indie space is a wonderful space for someone if it’s right. However, the key is authenticity. That’s the big take away for me from this one. You need to have that authenticity in the film itself and the brand fitting within that narrative, for it to be something that’s workable and something that is credible to the viewer at the end of the day. If you’re trying to force fit something into a film that’s trying to tell a very credible, moving story like the filmmakers of Blue Potato are trying to tell, the audience is going to see right through something that’s not genuine.
Take a look at these interviews on the Blue Potato website to get a sense of the experiments that Gita and Aron are cooking up in Maine. I am so grateful for their commitment to the filmmaking community, contributing to all of our learning by sharing their resources, process, and dreams!
Check it out!
Interview with Gita Pullapilly and Jared Simon (Hain Celestial) :
Aron and Gita discuss their work with Harvard Business School: