Tag Archives: max brooks

Mansfield U Zombie Byte Goes International

Recap: I interviewed World War Z author Max Brooks when he visited Mansfield University  in November 2012.  Down-to-earth, direct and  honest, Brooks is an interviewer’s dream.

I had read the book in preparation and knew from hints in the pop culture press,  that the movie would generate international buzz.

I’ve described in the first two posts how we did two half hour TV shows, then pulled a five minute clip in which Brooks talked about how much the movie has in common with his book (none).

We posted the two full interviews.  In May, the Vanity Fair cover story on Brad Pitt and the movie World War Z hit the stands.   That was the opening shot of the international publicity and promotion for the movie.

That’s when we released the five minute clip.  Numerous bloggers and sites, including Fandango, linked our video and posted blogs based on their interpretation of the interview.

I talked in the last post about the mistake I made which probably cost me several thousand views.

Now for the bit of luck I had which gained us several thousand views.  That  came in June, when Brooks declined to talk with mainstream media.

That left them no choice but to reference the Mansfield University video interview for information.

Two of the biggest media outlets –the Associated Press and Yahoo News —  did articles on the movie and the book, using the Mansfield University interview as a source of information.
Both of these articles appeared on the same day, boosting the views of our video  by over 1,000 in 12 hours.

Higher Ed communications guru Dick Jones explained the implications of this.

“The fact that the Max Brooks interview at Mansfield University was referenced by Yahoo and The Associated Press resulted in worldwide media attention for the school,” Dick said.  “That’s because Yahoo and AP are important third-party indicators of quality to media outlets and individual news consumers everywhere.  If AP and Yahoo run with a story, then editors and news directors at all media outlets will view it in a much more favorable light and are much more likely to run it.  And so it proved with this story.  Once given that seal of approval by AP and Yahoo, there was no stopping this one.”

He added that there are a handful of traditionally credible news sources.  “The AP is right at the top.  Yahoo, while much newer, has great clout also due to its platform as the default news provider for millions of individuals.”

Dick concluded by saying, “One take-away from this project has been the affirmation that for AP and Yahoo—and by inference for many other media outlets—YouTube interviews are a credible on-the-record source for journalists today—given equal value with original reporting.”

The other take away is that while the media has changed, the core values of good reporting, honest interviews and solid facts, remain of utmost importance.


Zombie March Leads Viewers to Mansfield University

I hadn’t planned a second post on this but it’s been an adventure and a learning process.
As of today, seven weeks after posting the Max Brooks five minute interview in which he talks about his novel World War Z and the Brad Pitt movie, it has earned  about 36,200 views, 18 comments, 216 likes and 8 dislikes.
We’re grabbing  about 600 views a day.
I had mentioned in the first post that numerous genre bloggers had posted links to the video and did their own commentary which helped enormously.
The international promotion machine designed to guarantee that the movie was a success, only helped our videos.
The  full length Conversations One and Two  interviews have also had steady growth in views, staying almost dead even with each other at around 3,200 views, telling me that viewers seek out the shows following the short version.

Here, I confess a big mistake, or at least a large oversight that no doubt cost us in the publicity game.
A viewer commented on the short video that she wished I had included the last two minutes of Conversations 2.  I had no idea what she was talking about so I reviewed the show’s last two minutes.  Brooks is talking again about how he wants people to know that the movie is nothing like the book.  He says the publishers insisted on doing a movie tie-in edition.  “I don’t want Brad Pitt on the cover of my book,” he says quite forcefully.  “I don’t want people thinking Brad Pitt is in my book.”

I had totally forgotten this segment.  So had my two cameramen and the editor.  It was the perfect sound byte and a line that dozens of bloggers and media outlets would have picked up on.

We decided that doing an “expanded” or “director’s cut” version including the two minutes would just confuse people and to leave well enough alone.  I don’t know if it was the right decision or not.

What I had done was to go to the show and fast forward until I hit the section I remembered and told the editor to pull that five minutes, give it a new intro and we’d post it.  Lesson: I should have reviewed the entire show.

We’re all trying to do several things at once, meet numerous deadlines and rushing to keep up.  In this case, it hurt us.

To survive  in this business, you acknowledge your mistakes or oversights, make a mental note, and move on.  But for a time, I will have visions of headlines in the Huffington Post, Slate, National Enquirer and blogs: “Author says, ‘I Don’t Want Brad Pitt on the Cover of my Book!'”

How often does that chance come along?

Oh yeah, about once in a lifetime.


Next: A bit of luck that gave a major boost to our views and a small, important revelation from communications guru Dick Jones.

Repurposing Zombie Interview for Lively Results

When our Student Activities Director said he’d booked Max Brooks, author of the  post-apocalyptic zombie novel World War Z: An Oral History, for a visit to Mansfield University campus in November 2012, I asked him if I could have the author for a couple hours  to interview him on my half hour talk show “Conversations.”
I also volunteered to take the author to lunch. I knew the novel was a best seller but research showed that Max Brooks is a very respected name in the zombie world.

And the zombie world is huge.
I wanted to do the interview for two reasons.
1. Brooks knows his stuff: geography, politics, climate, plagues, infrastructure,  communities and nations working together to rebuild after international calamity. That’s why the Naval War College takes him seriously.
2. Problems plagued the film production. It began with a bidding war between Brad Pitt and Leonardo DeCaprio before the book was even published. Pitt won and the problems began with the script and continued through production and post production. This was going to build to really major publicity.  MU could be in the mix.
My show airs weekly on regional cable outlets, but I also have my own Mansfield University YouTube channel where we post all the shows. It was a no-brainer that World War Z the film was going to create a lot of chatter world-wide and I was being handed a gift.
I read the novel , an interesting, intelligent treatise in the manner of Studs Terkel’s oral histories.
Brooks and I had lunch in a quiet restaurant and began talking. Almost immediately he exclaimed: “You’ve read the book! I can tell in the first 30 seconds if the interviewer has it – and 90 percent of them haven’t.”
We had a lively discussion ranging from zombies to his parents  to his childhood fears that led to his study of zombies. Later we did two half hour interviews. The first was about zombies, what they represent and how to survive zombie attacks. The second was about the writing life and growing up in Hollywood with parents Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, and, of course, the movie.

Once they were posted, the interviews did respectably for a specialized subject – a few hundred views each. Then, in April 2013, when the Vanity Fair cover story on Brad Pitt and World War z hit the stands, I pulled a five-minute clip from “Conversations” and produced a stand-alone video, and an audio podcast.
I took the information from the interview and wrote a blog for Huffington Post entitled, “World War Z Author Says Movie and Book Share Title Only.” It included links to the two shows and the shorter interview. It went live May 9.

By the end of the day, the video had picked up 48 views.  Folks on my FB page began sharing it.  Genre bloggers grabbed the clip and posted blogs about the interview.

Ten days later  the interview had scored 6,150 views, about 600 views a day.  The “Conversations” interviews picked up several hundred more.

Of course,  Mansfield University is mentioned at the beginning of the shows and in the Huffington Post blog.  I expect all will continue to attract viewers and readers as the World War Z promotion machine kicks into full throttle.

None of the above cost the university a cent other than my time.

Footnote: Producing your own talk show is not complex. I use our TV Services director. We shoot it in the studio and occasionally on location. I give him general directions, sometimes provide photos for B-roll , and he does the editing. It’s great for college-community relations and YouTube, of course, gives you a potential international audience.
I’ll do a future post on  hosting and distributing your own show in the future if you’re interested.