I'm looking for information about profileseries & producer Tony Diaz of Boca Raton Fl. He recently contacted a friend of mine here in Arizona about producing a segment for the Discovery Channel. He want's $30,000 and will guarantee that it will be broadcast.
Smells fishy to me. I have a call into Discovery, and cannot find much about the company except for their own website, seems to be highly controlled as there is no third party information.
Anyone in the COW community ever have dealings with this company?
[Malcolm Matusky] "He recently contacted a friend of mine here in Arizona about producing a segment for the Discovery Channel. He want's $30,000 and will guarantee that it will be broadcast."
Wait...he contacted your friend to produce a segment for the Discovery Channel (did he mention for what SHOW?), and he wants to be PAID for your friend to produce this segment? That makes no sense. "I want someone to clean my yard...oh, and pay $30 for the right to do so!"
And again, for what show? Guarantee it will be broadcast? ON WHAT?
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This sounds familiar.
My wife used to run the local economic development office and a similar 'company' was trying to sell a half hour show to them. They claimed they had a connection to the Travel Channel and Discovery, and could get a documentary highlighting our area aired on either channel for free. But, they really needed about 65K to get the show produced.
My wife told them for 65K she could hire me to produce her own show, and just buy a half hour of air time to run it, and have money left over. They said it was impossible to do it for less. They told her that they had done the same thing for (named several other area economic development offices) and knew what it cost to produce a show. At that point my wife told them that she not only knew the heads of all the offices that they claimed to have worked for, but had previously worked at two of them, and that no such projects had ever been done, and they hung up.
Pretty sure they were also from Florida, can't remember what town, or the name of the company.
She was convinced this was a 100% scam, but not sure if its the same as your deal. But it kinda has the same smell. This happened fall of '09.
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There used to be an outfit that went to medium sized corporations and interviewed their head honchos. The host and interviewer was ex-sports anchor Pat Summerall, and the profiles were aired on CNBC or some other business-related cable network, I'm fuzzy on the details now. The trick there was, as I was given to understand by the guy that told me about this, that these were legit interview productions, and DID air as promised, but only because they were essentially paid infomercials bought and placed on a leased-access basis. I've no idea if they actually ran nationally, or just as an insert in the regional markets serving the companies being profiled. This was some time back, when the cable news outlets were younger and had more blocks of air time they didn't know what to do with and couldn't sell to advertisers. I think the thinking behind the profiles was to air them in a block close to higher-profile busienss programming to make it seem like part of the actual business news. But that is just speculation.
Essentially these were vanity projects and PR pieces playing to the ego of the CEO's who paid to be interviewed, and I can't imagine that they did much, if even in a temporary PR sense, for the companies that paid for them. I can't say they were "scams" in the case of the Pat Summerall projects. The man delivered exactly what he had promised, and his clients AFAIK were all happy.
I can't say what this Florida outfit is or does, I don't know anything about it other than what you've posted here.
But if I had to guess, I'd say they were pursuing a similar business model.
Pro tip for the little leaguers out there: if they ask to interview you, it is maybe news. If they want YOU to PAY THEM to interview you, it is not news.
There was a concept back in the 90's called VNR - Video News Release.
I worked on one as an intern. We shot news style coverage of the governor talking about health care. Then we "interviewed" the ceo of a pharmaceutical company, and cut a VO, a VO/SOT and a 2 minute package, make BetaSP dubs and then I drove around to the 3 local network affiliates and handed the tapes to the assignment editors, who no doubt deposited the tapes in the recycle bin or immediately degaussed the tapes themselves!
It is a slow news day when you need corporate produced propaganda as filler.
Note to all future readers of this forum:
If it sounds too goo to be true, it probably is.
If it sounds like it might be a bit shady, it probably is.
If you have to ask about a website or business which seems not quite kosher, chances are it isn't.
[Mike Cohen] "If it sounds too goo to be true, it probably is.
If it sounds like it might be a bit shady, it probably is.
If you have to ask about a website or business which seems not quite kosher, chances are it isn't."
Ditto. No, MAJOR ditto. Ask yourself if it's so great haven't you heard of it before? Sure they can throw out some big names, but far more often than not the references fall part or were just for some little side projects years go, not the full blown show they are trying to sell your client.
Their big pitch is generally targeted directly to the ego of the CEO or some other top manager who is unlikely to attract national attention any other way.
The other "tell" is when the offer is some big package. Often in print this includes a full blown interview with the CEO by one of their "lead reporters," followed by seeing your story in 5,000 copies of a business sounding magazine you've never heard of, 2,000 reprints for you to use, a link on the electronic version of their magazine and inclusion in their annual directory of elite companies -- all for the ONE TIME price of just $10,000, but only if you can act on this week because so many others are clamoring for the deal. Is this a scam or just a poor use of marketing resources. Get the ego out of the way and you can pretty much figure it out.
Well I have to respond to Mike, seeing as I do VNR's a lot in my job, and they are not all bad or evil. They got that reputation from some abuses by the Bush administration on the federal level, as well as by private corporations and special interests. But the VNR format itself is agnostic; it can be used for good or evil, and is neither one of those things intrinsically.
VNR's are a little different from these profile projects, though they share some DNA. The profiles are paid ad placements, VNR's are sent out for free, though they are bankrolled by clients who want to get a particular message out.
VNR's are if anything gaining ground all the time in a news industry marked by contractions of revenue and a maniacal pursuit of "cost containment". You see small market stations cutting back their political and civic/government beats and any beats that involve travel, in favor of satellite "tours", VNR submissions, and subscriptions to services that package news content. In Chicago, for example, something like five out of the biggest six competing news stations entered into an agreement to send just one cameraman from one station to the press room of the state goverment HQ, and that cameraman shares his tape with all the competing stations in the group as pool footage. I think that's bad for journalism, but obviously good for the accountants. You also see growing operations of "centralcasting" where one node of a net creates the content and shares it to all the others, again, so they can cut personnel costs for reporters and shooters. Even the local weather for these outfits is not done locally, but in a centralized studio. (/Editorial mode on/I think FCC deregulation went too far, and market forces now drive news too much. /end editorial mode)
There are two basic flavors of VNR, I suppose: one is the pre-edited finished piece, the video equivalent of a written press release. These are kind of rare I think, as they went out of favor long ago. No news director wants to risk running a canned piece unless he is absolutely sure he has it exclusive... it would be like two women attending a fancy party and wearing the same dress. An offshoot of this is the practice of subscribing to a series of packages. There's an outfit I think in Florida that specializes in creating health-related segments that can be customized to look like the local station has produced them. These I think are mostly bankrolled by pharma megacorps, insurance companies, or manufacturers of particular devices that might happen to be seen in the footage. These come fully crafted and ready to roll, or with the option of inserting a "donut" where the local reporter or anchor can be inserted to further customize the look. Stations that can't afford a full-time health and science beat reporter rely on these a LOT, and usually for health-related pieces, the sales dept. often finds a way to create a tie-in with a local hospital to "sponsor" it. Making it not only free newscast time filler, but also a revenue stream itself. There is even an online aggregator service for these VNR's now, where a station can sign up and get enough content for an entire show, pre-produced and free to use. The people with stories to tell make the VNR and payt he service to host it in an easy-to-access interface, which provieds tracking of how many times the VNR was looked at and downloaded, and by which markets. This is big business, and getting bigger all the time, and a part of the industry few people "on the street" know much about.
The second kind of VNR is what I often work on. What we make is a "construction kit" of pre-selected b-roll, graphics, sound clips and interviews, about a certain topic, usually safety or law-related, which a news producer and editor can use in any order they want, to assemble a unique version of the story.
I would be lying if I said we include material that's counter to our message; it is assumed that a good producer/user of the VNR would go pursue those additional elements on their own, and mix our footage with other elements they produce themselves, to tell a complete story. Generally, my sense is that such due diligence is rare these days though, but that is not part of my job. OTOH, the stories I put up in VNR form are not lies or propaganda pieces, but straight-up informational background about such things as holiday fire safety issues, new rules for hunters during deer season, what to do if your car hits a power pole and the wires fall on it, how to reduce West-Nile-infected mosquitoes around your property, things like that, which don't have or *need* a "counter-point".
The VNR is provided in general release, by sat feed, postal delivery, and online, for stations to use, or not, as they see fit. We hope the narrative "spin" we've put on the material carries through in the final usage, but we don't control that, except in the choice of what shots are made available in the "kit", so you don't put shots in the VNR that you think can be used in a "hostile" way. If you're doing deer hunting safety videos, for example, you're not going to leave in a clip where the Conservation Police Officer makes a mistake or does something off-topic funny. That's not anything agenda-oriented, that's just proper story-telling and editing.
We put those VNR's out because we know the news stations in our state are stretched in their resources and won't necessarily come cover a non-sexy story of importance to the citizens, unless they can do it essentially for free. So we do the hard work for them and they use our kit to build a story and take credit for it, and we're okay with that, as long as the message gets out to the people. I think that's a noble and righteous use of the medium, and I'm proud of my VNR work in this regard.
It was the propaganda style VNR I was talking about, and not so much as a criticism.
Video footage provided as pool footage or provided as b-roll for stations to do with as they please is useful. For example, on NASA tv they run b-roll feeds of shuttle or payload prep, with NAT sound and no voice over.
I know, Mike, and I wasn't insulted, I just felt like for people that don't know about it, I should give a fuller description of the genre'. No harm, no foul.
This was a great response! Thank you all for the input, this is a valuable forum and if my client is not completely nuts, will save them a lot of money. I am already producing a film about their business, cutting "b" roll to distribute to cable affiliates for free will be alot cheaper than the $30k the profileseries was willing to do the job for.
[Mark Suszko] "There's an outfit I think in Florida that specializes in creating health-related segments that can be customized to look like the local station has produced them. These I think are mostly bankrolled by pharma megacorps, insurance companies, or manufacturers of particular devices that might happen to be seen in the footage."
MaxWorldNews, if memory serves.
Did some work with them a few years ago.
Anything with the words VIDEO & BOCA RATON in the same sentence: run!
OK where do I start...This particular company MAY be legit but this area is what we freelance shooters call the epicenter of the "Boca Bandits". We call them bandits because they rack up a LOT of bills, get sued (often by the celebrity host), spend down their assets, declare bankruptcy and then move across the street under a new name, owing freelance shooters like myself our money.
These are production companies that mainly produced infomercials but have moved into "Pay-for-Play" PR videos like they are pitching your friend. They do a pretty good job of making a video but seldom can get you the airplay they promise. It's usually ROS (Rotation-of-Station) which means the station randomly chooses a time slot which often means no one sees it.
They contract C List celebs usually on their way down. Joan Lunden, High Downs, Walter Cronkite, former quarterbacks...they lend an air of credibility.
My theory is that they are in Boca because that is, or was, the center of stock market "boiler rooms" for 20 years, so there's lots of great phone salespeople there. There are a dozen companies doing this, a scam, you’re paying a lot for the airtime you get. I did one for Titans of Industry or something and their segment appeared at 5AM! It was hosted by famous quarterback Terry Bradshaw. PBS has sued these firms because they usually promise to get you on public TV. See:
In sum, since they are Boca based this seems to be the same thing as before, not a full out scam but a massive abuse of money for little if any return. Just being based in Boca means they’re one of those types of companies. Among us freelance DPs we have traded information as to Boca based companies that run up bills to crews knowing they will have to fold due to lawsuits. Beware!
Ned, thanks so much for collecting that stuff. Took me a while to go thru it all, but man, does IT raise the blood pressure. Hope you didn't get stung by one of these guys. WHat they do hurtS the rep of everyone in tHe business and makes it harder for all of us to make an honest living. I was particulalrly appalled by the counter-suit the one company filed against the clothing store owner for blogging about the sca
I saw the article about the blogger, at least they could not crush the news agency's story!
I did not realize the "Boca" connection to stock swindles, there must be a huge labor force there to scam people all over the country not that most people have been burned by anything to do with "financial instruments" Same swindle, different day.
Thanks' for all the reply's.