Movies with a Message Can Market


I’ve been attending film festivals of various types for many years. When I attended the Illuminate Film Festival in Sedona, Arizona in June, I realized that the films I love are actually marketing opportunities for brands I care about… brands and ideas that people need to know.

I love film—all film. Always have. Since opening our satellite office in Malibu, California, I’ve been exposed to more “conscious films,” including the opening of Children of the Water, directed by Rob Nilsson, which is what led me to Illuminate. Now in its second year, Illuminate brings together the best and brightest in conscious cinema.

People want to be entertained and engaged while they are being informed. That is the magic of media publicity and social media. When you unwind by scrolling through a magazine or Twitter, you are actually learning. Certain films, too, can teach and open consumer’s eyes about issues as well as brands. Teaching should be a brand’s most powerful selling tool.

Danette Wolpert, the executive director of ILLUMINATE, explains how conscious cinema encourages audiences to be deeply attentive to their everyday existence. Danette said no one was shepherding the conscious film convergence, so she and the Illuminate team did!

“Conscious films are life-affirming, cinematic works about mindfulness, wellness, spiritual practice, mind-body science, organic and plant-based food movements, sustainable living and most importantly, the human journey.”

That’s exactly what brand marketers in the naturals category are trying to achieve. I feel conscious filmmaking is where blogging was 10 years ago.  What appears to be a lone voice actually can have an influence over many. Even book publishers are turning to film producers because video has more impact. If a picture is worth a thousand words…a movie is worth millions!!

Illuminate is where film makers, producers, writers, distributors and investors go to meet and bring new ideas into global consciousness. Brands can contribute to these films by sponsoring them, getting recognition for them, becoming subjects for them, showing them in private screenings, being a gift with purchase or purchase with purchase, etc.

Documentary-style films aren’t known for being profitable. They are known for giving back. “However in today’s content-hungry world, documentaries may not make money but you can get your investment back.  Everyone should have a marketing strategy,” said Geralyn Dreyfus, Utah Film co-founder and Impact founder.

According to Ilan Arboleda of Creative Chaos, “A good conscious film requires artistic merit, commercial viability and disruption that will make a difference.” Filmmakers are (or should be) looking for brands to partner with.

The C Word, one of the most talked about films of the festival, had all the assets to make a message viral—a message that many brands are trying to address themselves. Directed by cancer survivor, Meghan O’Hara—who also produced Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine—and narrated by Morgan Freeman, this film shows us how we can beat cancer before it beats us. The odds are high with 70% of deaths from cancer being preventable; people just need to know more.

Films like The C-Word, Vegan: Everyday Stories and Love, Sweat and Tears (a film about menopause and the lack of consciousness on a subject that 60 million American women are currently experiencing without knowledge of effective tools or knowledgeable practitioners) are all opportunities to help raise awareness for the solutions as much as the issues.

Keynote speaker and CEO of several Ebert enterprises, Chaz Ebert, wife of the late Roger Ebert, believes that conventional entertainment is passive. Films should inspire and shift consciousness. During her presentation, she said, “At another time and place, my spiritual friends would have been burned at the stake for making these films.”

We have the freedom to take better advantage of this medium. Filmmaker Rita Coburn Whack opened the first night with her film Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, and later shared tips on how to “find the story” during a Q&A after the screening.

Her advice was to be quiet, listen and let it find you. If you don’t hear it, do the last thing you heard.

That’s what marketing is all about. Talking about what people are hearing.

Unlike journalism, conscious film allows for a more creative process. Norman Seeff, a filmmaker and photographer for Martin Scorsese, Steve Jobs, Mick Jagger and other prolific artists, outlined the stages of creating conscious films, including the emergence of a dream, resistance and fears, resolution, commitment to a turning point, creation, manifestation and fulfillment. He is going to start doing workshops! I can’t wait to sign up.

As Danette says, “Conscious cinema is emerging as a genre. The film industry is starting to embrace conscious cinema and realize its value. Distributors are moving into the space and taking chances on new film titles. Box office numbers are climbing, and audiences are adopting new practices and new ways of living and being.”

“Together, we are pioneering a movement.” Be a trailblazer and early adapter. This is a gold mine for corporations. Get into this now before the behemoths bully their way in…

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NNancy Trentancy Trent is a writer and speaker, a lifelong health advocate, a globe-trotting trend watcher and the founder and president of Trent & Company, a New York-based marketing communications firm.  Trent & Company grew out of Nancy’s personal commitment to helping people live longer and healthier lives.  A former journalist for New York magazine, Nancy has written seven books on healthy lifestyles, serves on the editorial boards of several magazines and travels around the world speaking at conferences and trade shows on trends in the marketplace. She is a recognized expert in PR with more than 30 years of experience creating and managing highly successful campaigns. Nancy can be reached at (212) 966-0024 or through e-mail at  You may also visit

NOTE: The opinions expressed in bylined articles are not necessarily those of the publisher.
Published on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 6/15/16




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