Comstock's magazine 0818 - August 2018 - Page 41

Jessa Ciel (center) and crew work out front of the "Big Blue House" featured in Lady Bird, as part of a short film commissioned by Visit Sacramento. photo : matt estrada Lisa Berg is a 40-year-old designer from Phoenix who, mo- tivated by the film’s success, made her first trek to Sacramento with her husband last March. Their itinerary included spots featured in the film, including breakfast and a movie at Tower Cafe and Theatre and a walk through East Sacramento, where Berg snapped a photo in front of the Blue House, which she posted to her 49,000 Instagram followers. “We thought it was cool how excited everyone was,” Berg says of the hometown pride she saw the film engender. “I would definitely go back to Sacramento.” Even if there were 60,000 travelers like Berg, the tourism reach of any movie, especially one with indie roots, has a lim- ited shelf life. Lady Bird’s relative success falls far short of say, a mega-hit like the Harry Potter series, which has boosted British tourism for years. For the film to have a lasting impact, accord- ing to Bill Baker, chief strategist at Total Destination Marketing and author of the best-seller Destination Branding for Small Cities, the press must be used to generate interest in other as- pects of the city’s offerings. “[Films] are opportunities, and there may be a window when you can take advantage of them,” Baker says. “You can spread the conversation out into larger issues beyond that, that’s the ideal way to use them.” ART AS BRANDING In Testa’s eyes, the buzz created an opportunity to “position Sacramento as not just a boring government town.” And cen- tral to that is continuing to invest in and elevate the city’s arts community. “We’re not just about conventions … we’re really looking at leisure travelers and the sporting market and music festivals and Farm to Fork, things that really start to define the identity and convey the personality of a city,” he says. “Art and artists really convey the personality of the city.” As Lady Bird fever began to peak around the Oscars, Visit Sacramento partnered with Wide Open Walls to commission a mural inspired by the movie poster at the intersection of 16th and I streets. Painted by local artist Maren Conrad, the mural became a hit online after it was shared on Instagram by the film’s official account. “Celebrating the city where #LadyBird found her wings. Thank you for all the love, Sacramento!” read a caption carrying the hashtag #SacramentoProud. And so, when it came to planning its annual tourism lun- cheon, the agency set out to give the event a Lady Bird tie. Why not see if they could recreate some of the excitement many felt in seeing their city on the big screen with a film of their own? It partnered with a group of local artists to commission a short film on Sacramento. The task was to balance branding August 2018 | 41