Friday, April 22, 2011

Warm Response to 'Prairie Love' Film by Compass Media's Dusty Bias

Gulf Shores, Ala. – It’s ironic that Compass Media associate Dusty Bias traveled to the frigid plains of the Midwest to film his movie, “Prairie Love,” a dark comedy focusing on two guys in a slow old station wagon.

After all, it was watching the wild car chases of “Smokey and the Bandit” as a child that helped him “escape” North Dakota for the warm South.
Now working in Gulf Shores, Ala., Bias unveiled “Prairie Love,” his first feature film, at the Sundance Film Festival in January. It clicked with audiences and several critics, garnering comparisons to a Wes Anderson or Coen Brothers flick.

“The whole goal going in was to keep it simple as possible, but with depth in the meaning of the actions we take as people,” he said. “I’ve always been drawn to protagonists who are flawed, and antagonists you root for, and you’re not sure if what is happening is the right thing, or the wrong thing.”

“Prairie Love” continues to receive exposure at film festivals and in publications such as indieWIRE and The Hollywood Reporter and negotiations are under way for distribution.

“Constantly teetering on the brink of absurdity, Prairie Love is saved by a quirky sensibility, perceptive scripting and a painterly style,” writes the Hollywood Reporter’s Justin Lowe, adding it is “a gratifying departure from overly predictable indie dramas.”

The early buzz is encouraging, Bias said, but still only represents an “open door” to fulfilling his dream.

“It feels like you’ve been drafted – not No. 1 but in the third or second round. Now it’s about playing the game,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to get the attention of a base of critics, filmmakers and distributors … Now I have to make the best of it.”

Growing up in Minot, N.D., Bias was often transported elsewhere through his love of movies.

“I was fascinated with the art of filmmaking and being able to escape,” he said.
He said while other kids watched cartoons, he watched a VHS tape of “Smokey and the Bandit,” “Smokey and the Bandit II” and “Caddyshack” almost every day. At 19, he went to film school at Montana State University.

Bias has worked in the Coast360 studio of Compass Media for nearly a year. In 2009, after directing several short films and contributing to feature-length movies, Bias rounded up just enough funding, equipment and actors to begin filming in Minot.
In his script, a vagrant (Jeremy Clark) driving the desolate snow-covered plains stops to help a nearly frozen local man (Garth Blomberg), who was on his way to pick up his pen-pal girlfriend (Holly Lynn Ellis), whom he has never met, from prison. The drifter sees an opportunity to change his lonely existence …

Prairie Love trailer from Dusty Bias on Vimeo.
The title, a phrase Bias coined, refers to homesteaders migrating West who coupled up when stranded on the plains.

In keeping with the minimalist theme, the movie has a cast of three, all of them Bias’ friends from high school or college. Problems came from the difficult “fourth character” – the worst winter in North Dakota since 1936, with temperatures consistently at -55 degrees Fahrenheit with 30 mph winds.

Bias said Blomberg joined the production a few days before filming, and didn’t know a scene would require him to run on a frozen highway wearing only underwear.

Next is the Newport Beach Film Festival April 30, where “Prairie Love” will be a Saturday Night Spotlight; showings at the Atlanta Film Festival on May 1 and 5; and the Santa Cruz Film Festival, which will feature it as an Opening Night Film on May 5.

“It’s a little boost. It keeps you believing,” Bias said.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sand Sculpture Surprise

One of the great things about working at Compass Media and living in Gulf Shores is the little surprises one often finds when walking on the beach. Take a look at these really cool sand sculptures some anonymous artist left behind when he or she headed home from Gulf Shores recently. These things were life-sized.

Its hard to imagine how many hours went into these sculptures - especially considering they won't survive the next high tide - but it certainly did not go unappreciated. We saw several delighted people posing for pictures with these amazing, impromptu works of art.

Over the course of a few days last week we saw sculptures of dolphins, sharks, sea turtles (our favorite), plus Egyptian pyramids and amazing castles - all of which looked to be the work of the same talented artist.

Thank you, whoever you are. And come back soon!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Compass Media and Sea Turtles

The Compass Media team was out in force at the first meeting of Alabama's "Share the Beach" sea turtle conservation organization last night. There appeared to be well over 200 people from Gulf Shores and surrounding areas there, all eager to prepare for this year's "turtle season."

Nesting season begins next month, and we'll be part of the teams who walk the beaches at sunrise to look for turtle tracks - the trails left in the sand by female turtles when they crawl up onto the beach to dig their nests and lay their clutches of eggs. The nest sites are then marked and fenced off with stakes to keep people from accidentally walking over them.

Then, we watch and wait for 60-75 days - making sure coyotes and other predators don't dig up the nests.

We'll be sharing news, pictures and video of this process along the way, so stay tuned!

Monday, April 11, 2011

New Website Design by Compass Media

“Good-looking, with solid character...”

No it’s not online dating, but the new, where recent changes and improvements are not just cosmetic. Launched by Compass Media last week, the re-designed site is a user-friendly and information-packed tool for helping you not just pick places in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Foley to stay, dine, explore and enjoy, but actually get there on a budget.

More and more-detailed listings with integrated Google Earth maps help you literally “find” that perfect restaurant, attraction and accommodation for a fun-filled day with the family, or romantic dinner for two, complete with links to advertisers' commercials and coupons. Check out an example here.

The “Video on Demand” link takes you to a variety of our video programming, including a link to the Coast360 YouTube channel. And save hundreds of dollars with online and text coupons.

If you want to dine in tonight, there are new recipes in our “Let’s Eat” section focusing on adventurous or traditional ways to enjoy our area’s succulent seafood, whether caught or bought.

The events calendar is now bursting with places to go and things to do, with a seven-day events calendar on every page and a more detailed and searchable calendar on the events page. If you have relatives visiting from out of town, or want to steer your friends to your latest discovery, share your favorites on Facebook and Twitter via the “Featured Locations” link.

Brains and beauty, content and cool blend better than ever on the new, designed to give you the complete picture – through television (check out Channel 14!), video, print, websites and social media – of the good life on the Gulf Coast.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Destination Marketing: Post Your Drive Market Deals on Thursdays?

This week, Compass Media noticed two new studies on social media usage that offer insights that might be advantageous for destination marketers. The studies found that social media engagement is highest on Thursdays and Fridays.
The reason is fairly obvious, says Jeremiah Owyang, a partner at the Altimeter Group: “People are heading into the weekend so they’re thinking about things besides work. They’re mentally checking out and transitioning to the weekend.”
The studies determined that consumers’ engagement with social media is 18% higher toward the end of the work week, with Thursday being the best.
Think about it. After a long, hard week, people start picking their heads up a bit to see what’s going on for the weekend and what their friends are doing. Dropping targeted deals for your drive market into that environment makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Insult-to-Injury: Hang-up, then Un-friend

Compass Media has learned that Facebook just released a new update to its mobile app that adds new features and improves on others. Among the new features is the ability to "un-friend" someone from your phone's Facebook app. Previously, un-friending could only be done from the main site at home.

Now, when you get upset with someone, not only can you hang up on them - but you can add insult-to-injury by un-friending them immediately!

Other additions and improvements, according to CNN,  include:

Event check-ins: Facebook's app already let people share their locations with friends, but not it's easier than before to "check in" to a particular event, like a friend's birthday party of a concert.

Friend map: Now you can see where your Facebook friends are -- on a map. This assumes your friends are using the app to check in to various locations. Facebook doesn't broadcast your location unless you tell it to.

Credit: Image by CNN.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sea Turtle News: Florida Orthodontist Repairs Injured Shells

Compass Media extends a special shout-out to Jupiter, Florida orthodontist Dr. Alberto Vargas for helping save sea turtles that have been injured by boats. Dr. Vargas is helping the veterinarians at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center treat the injured turtles by using orthodontic procedures on their fractured shells.

Full story here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tablet Media News: Popular Science Sells 10,000 iPad Subscriptions in 5 Weeks

Popular Science magazine has confirmed it sold 10,000 digital subscriptions in the first 5 weeks the content was offered for the iPad - at the same price as its print subscriptions

According to Ad Age, "It’s not yet clear if iPad subscriptions are cannibalizing print sales, or if most of the 10,000 iPad readers are first-time subscribers to the magazine."

The print magazine and newspaper industries are still in the very stages of change being brought by new digital technologies, but we think Popular Science's experience thus far shows promising signs.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Good News for Meetings & Conventions Business

Here's a bit of good news for DMO's. MSNBC reported yesterday the meetings and conventions business is rebounding.

According to Victor Owens, VP of Marketing for, “2011 is off to a good start. [Transient] business travel came back first; the convention trade is coming back, and we’re seeing higher occupancies in the major business centers. The hotel industry is feeling a bit stronger about their ability to fill rooms at higher rates,” he said.