|Hip-hop DJ Biz Markie stars in Scion's second branded short film, 'Stomping Grounds.'
The short film, which cost an estimated $300,000 to produce, features hip-hop DJ Biz Markie in a 2007 Scion xB as a tour guide visiting his pre-fame stomping grounds on Long Island, N.Y., and catching up with his childhood friends.
Scion will submit the picture to film festivals through October, but is also actively chasing a potential licensing deal with cable TV networks in hopes one will produce a series based on the concept, said Patrick Courrielche, who personally oversaw the project as managing director of Inform Ventures.
The film will be seen this fall on Scion Broadband, the marketer's broadband entertainment network, which was introduced late last year and is accessible at Scion.com/broadband.
Mr. Courrielche said the documentary was his idea, after Brian Bolain, the automaker's national sales-promotion manager, challenged Inform Ventures to push the envelope for the brand's second branded-entertainment flick before he left for sibling Lexus in 2005.
Alan Mimaki, who took over the project as business-operations manager of Scion, said the movie helps the brand continue its long-term goal of striving to "create innovative marketing programs where our audience can experience the brand in an authentic environment."
Mr. Courrielche said many brands that try to create entertainment products fail because they don't develop relevant content that appeals to a critical mass and can stand alone without the brand message as entertainment.
"Our company really feels strongly that brands can become media, and we do what we can to instill this thought into all of our client's programs," he said.
The all-new xB model isn't involved in "hard-core, blatant integration" because it doesn't get much screen time in "Stomping Grounds," he said.
Scion's first sponsored docudrama, "On the DL," followed a pair of hip-hop artists, Questlove and King Britt, on their quest for their first drivers' licenses in their native Philadelphia. That 2004 film, also handled by Inform Ventures and directed by Andrew Gura (who also directed the new film along with Rob Schroeder), was screened at 10 film festivals, including Manhattan's Tribeca Film Festival, and it won a Silver Plaque at the Chicago International Film Festival.
"On the DL" is also available on Scion Broadband.