Mortal Kombat premiered in arcades in 1992. Over the years, this franchise has spawned nine video games, two movies (with a third currently in development), and two TV series. Then, it stalled.
2010 was not a banner year for MK. No films or TV series since 1997. The most recent video game shared with the DC Universe. The head had been ripped off and the blood drained from this once thriving franchise.
Enter Kevin Tancharoen.
With $7,500 of his own money and a crap ton of favors and luck, Tancharoen put together an eight-minute trailer as a pitch to Warner Brothers to direct the in-development MK film. As someone who once literally sent a Diagnosis Murder spec script to Dick Van Dyke, I can definitely say that there is no love in the ‘verse more powerful than nerd love.
The result? Tancharoen was hired to direct ten episodes of a web series in the MK universe. The first episode was released on Machinima’s YouTube channel, and additional episodes will continue to be released exclusively through this site.
What does this have to do with business and promotion? Everything!
Tancharoen marketed himself by showing his film as a product. It was an expensive marketing plan – $7,500 and two months of work and a basket of I.O.U.’s to all the friends he’d called on to help him out – but he was able to get the studio’s attention in a way that a resume or cold calling never would have achieved.
Similarly, you can market yourself to a potential employer by showing them an example of work you could produce specifically for that company. Many employers will ask for samples of previous work (if it’s appropriate for your industry), but creating something uniquely tailored to your interviewer’s interest is an excellent way to set yourself apart.
For example, if you were looking to be a blog writer at Quality Logo Products, you could send in a sample article about promotional products or see if you could pull the ol’ Die-Hard-IS-related-to-stress-balls angle. An event planner could provide a sample itinerary based on packages the company already offers. Basically, you need to put an image of yourself already employed with the company into the interviewer’s mind.
Not every rookie is able to knock a home run his first time out. Directors like Frank Darabont and Orson Welles cranked out masterpieces as their first efforts in the film industry: The Shawshank Redemption and Citizen Kane.
Those are guys you sign up right away. The guy who made Piranha Part Two: The Spawning gets tossed right back into the water.
Except… maybe there was a glimmer of something you liked in Piranha Part Two: The Spawning. Maybe somewhere in the opening scene with two people interrupted mid-underwater-booty by murderous fish, you saw an inspired camera angle or stunning character development. You agree to take this young director under your wing.
The second movie he makes is Terminator. Congratulations, my friend. You just invested in James Cameron and can wipe your ass with hundred-dollar bills.
Although accomplishments look great on paper, awards and honors are limited to very few and may not reflect effort or talent as much as opportunity and popularity.
Promote Your Products
Besides that warm fuzzy feeling you get from fulfilling someone’s childhood dream, the WB executives had ulterior motives for paying Tancharoen to make webisodes: they had a video game coming out.
The first episode of MK: Legacy premiered on April 11th. The ninth MK video game hit shelves on April 19th. Coincidence? I think not.
The renewed fervor over live-action MK skyrockets overall interest in the franchise, leading to customer driven searches for additional content. From there, it’s like shooting hungry piranhas in shallow pools with a high-powered rifle.
What kind of promotional tips can you pull from this MK situation? Do you find that giving a potential employee a “test run” helps you make an informed choice to invest in the right person? How do you set yourself apart from other interviewees in the job market search? Sound off in the comments below!
Until next time, keep expanding your brand!