Coming up this Sunday is the 91st Oscars where cinematic achievements are assessed and recognized by the Academy’s voting membership. A frontrunner for the coveted Best Picture Award is the movie, Roma. This film has already broken ground as Netflix’s first Best Picture nominee and has the potential to be the first film to receive the Academy Award for both Best Foreign Language Film and Best Picture. This seems to be a likely outcome looking at Roma’s track record as the critics’ choice in New York and Los Angeles along with its wins at the Directors Guild Awards and BAFTAs, not to mention its 10 Academy Award nominations. Approaching this weekend’s award ceremony, eyes are definitely on Roma to see if it can continue this winning streak.
The 135-minute film written, directed, produced, shot and co-edited by acclaimed Alfonso Caurón is in black and white, a mix of the Spanish and Mixtec languages and features a representative cast without well-known Hollywood faces. The draw to Roma has nothing to do with the star power or razzle dazzle of other contenders like Black Panther or A Star is Born. The appeal comes from the authentic storytelling that Caurón employs that transports the audience into the world of his childhood in Mexico City in the early 1970s. His focus on making the story as authentic and true to the characters as possible laid the foundation for the success of this history-making film.
STAYING TRUE TO THE STORY
Telling the story of the main character, Cleo, was a passion project for Caurón as he dedicated the film to his family’s longtime maid, Liboria Rodríguez. The protagonist, Cleo, is based on the memories that Caurón had of Liboria, who was consulted extensively in both the writing process by Caurón and during filming by the leading actress portraying her character, Yalitza Aparicio. The details in the film recreate a world from the past that reflect the strength and pull of the memories of the movie’s director. The powerful imagery and the real and genuine feel of the characters are gripping in the trailer for Roma.
Caurón wanted to get every aspect to reflect his and Liboria’s reality as accurately as possible. This was demonstrated by his meticulous casting process where they had “armies of casting directors” searching through Mexico City, Oaxaca and Veracruz to find the right people to portray his family. His goal was to find a cast to play the characters that not only look like the people from his past but have the same qualities. Once he had the right actors, he took his time filming. The movie itself feels unrushed as the story unfolds through detailed experiences. It is by no means action-packed but takes a heavy pull on the heart-strings as the viewer can’t help but become invested in the life of Cleo and be touched by the authenticity of her story that evaluates issues like class and race in Mexico.
BUSINESS LESSONS FROM ROMA
Roma is holding its own against films with up to 13 times the production budget in the Best Picture category. The black and white, foreign language film earns its position in the spotlight through its genuine storytelling. By leading with authenticity, Caurón has captured the attention of audiences and the Academy and connected with them the way only the truth can.
Following in the steps of Roma’s director, starting with authentic characters is a must. A good business story shows potential customers how they can address a need and be transformed through working with your company. Make sure that the customer, the hero in most effective brand stories, is casted correctly. This doesn’t just mean looking like the target market, the qualities that distinguish the customers need to be portrayed as well. The businesses or consumers that you work with should be able to see themselves in your business’ story and have the narrative ring true for them.
Your business might not be going for an Oscar with its marketing, but the end goal is the same: to connect with the audience and have an impact. Making a lasting impression is about much more than getting star power or action-scenes, its about telling a story that feels real to those listening and makes them feel something that will compel them to take action. Marketing does not need to have a large budget to purchase all the bells and whistles to be successful. Starting with what is at the core of your business and telling a compelling story your target market can relate to is the key to lasting success.
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