MARCH 4, 2013

UP FRONT
meager 14 miles to the gallon. Executives at Ford’s Dearborn, Ill. headquarters did not respond to calls for comment, but Shell said they loved the idea so much that they have agreed to pay for all marketing and advertising as a test for a potentially wider campaign. “We proposed it to corporate Ford, and they’re backing it,” Shell said. “If it’s successful, then next year they’ll roll it out to between 100 and 500 other dealerships.” Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends at Santa Monica online car sales firm TrueCar Inc. wasn’t sure that the campaign would convince the truly eco-conscious in their decision making, but said the campaign was original and would cut little into the dealership’s sales margins. “I don’t know how many people are trying to save the world with their car purchases,” he said. “But it’s certainly creative. I can’t imagine it’s an extremely expensive promotion and it stands out.” But Shell says the relatively small amounts add up. “If every new car dealership in America did this, annually we’d have 150 million tons offset,” said Shell. “And $15 billion would be going back to renewable energy and other things.” – Kelly Goff

SAN FERNANDO VALLEY BUSINESS JOURNAL 3

Nurturing Indie Movies’ Shelf Life
DVD vendor’s book provides filmmakers distribution direction.
Ryan Kugler has made a living selling movies at bottom-of-the-barrel prices. His new book hopes to teach budding filmmakers to sell their work at a better price point. Kugler, 38, is president of DVA Inc., a Burbank company that liquidates slow selling DVDs and Blu-Ray discs at e-commerce sites and discount retailers. “People always come to me and say, ‘You distribute movies to Wal-Mart. How do I get my movie on the shelf?’” he said. “Also, I have seen a lot of bombs, so I know what works and what doesn’t.” The book, Kugler “How to Plan, Produce and Distribute Your Independent Film,” was coauthored by Eric Sherman, who has written several other Hollywood how-to books. The cover features a picture of a VHS video cassette, the first medium that allowed filmmakers to get their movies

Retro: Book cover.

PHOTO BY DAVID SPRAGUE

Eco Car Guy: Fleet Manager Mike Shell leans on a vehicle at Simi Valley Ford.

Hitting Brake On Carbon Footprint
Simi Valley Ford looks to drive vehicle sales with pollution offsets.
How can a carmaker best known for selling gas-guzzling pickups make consumers feel a little less guilty about buying one in this age of eco-awareness? Try this: carbon offsets. Simi Valley Ford, in what may be a first for a major domestic auto dealership, is

offering to buy two years of carbon offsets for every truck and car purchased at its store through April 22. It works like this: The dealership is donating a varying amount of cash – depending on the vehicles miles per gallon rating – to Carbonfund.org, a Bethesda, Md. environmental group. The organization will then use the money for tree planting projects and other initiatives that in some way cancel out the emissions of the new vehicle. “It’s a way for our customers to buy green,” said Mike Shell, the dealership’s

fleet manager, who developed the program. “And it seems to be making a difference to customers.” Shell, who was hired by the dealership in November, previously started two social networking sites devoted to promoting green-friendly lifestyles and environmental policy: GoGreenTube.com and PlanetDaddy.com. The offsets vary from just $45 for a gas-sipping Ford Fusion hybrid, rated at 47 mpg, to $142 for the huge Expedition, an SUV that has generated some bad publicity for Ford in the past given its

directly to consumers without a theater screening. Chapters in the book cover choosing a distributor and how to get a movie into stores. And in recognition of industry changes, it also discusses digital downloads and self-distribution. Kugler said a publisher gave him an advance and agreed to publish the book but then rejected the manuscript. So the authors self-published it both on paper and in electronic formats. So far, though, it hasn’t exactly set publishing records. It ranked No. 1,215,514 this month on the Amazon where it retails for the full price of $19.99. – Joel Russell

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