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New Company Taps Alternative, Cult Content

7 Apr, 2003 By: Jessica Wolf

Tapping into subculture programming is an exciting challenge, but marketing the product in a way that captures the core audience as well as mass consumers is a real feat, said Eric Boyd, president of the newly formed Rise Above Entertainment.

Rise Above Entertainment, a sub-label of Video Action Sports, will focus on alternative, extreme-subculture or counterculture reality topics that may not fall into the regular Video Action Sports arena, as well as cult favorites, Boyd said.

Already available from Rise Above are street-skateboarding antics with Pritchard vs. Dainton, no-holds-barred fighting with Rites of Passage and underground street-racing action with Mischief and Mischief 3000.

Coming up are American Misfits, featuring Wee Man from MTV's “Jackass,” and a pool-skateboarding documentary.

A recent acquisition for the burgeoning label is the “El Santo” series, starring Mexican Cinema's 1960s-1970s professional wrestler-turned-action-hero.

“He's a pretty big deal in cult cinema,” Boyd said. “He's the Hispanic Batman.”

Rise Above will launch the line with the cult superhero's first U.S.-released film, Extraterrestrial, which stars the son of the original actor who appeared in more than 50 “El Santo” films. Extraterrestrial streets May 6 to coincide with Cinco de Mayo and features deleted scenes, a special effects documentary, a director's interview and footage from the theatrical premiere.

Beginning June 10, Rise Above plans two releases each month from The Santo Collection, featuring uncovered or never-seen-in-the-U.S. “Santo” titles.

Rise Above product will come from acquisitions and organic productions, Boyd said. And the company asks its producers to keep the content real, he added. Rise Above wants productions that express the hardcore alternative, reality and lifestyle stories that are already a part of society and pop culture rather than programs that fill a concept, he said.

“That's what Rise Above is,” Boyd said. “It's documenting the reality of a specific genre. We're documenting society and it's nothing new, it's just that what we're documenting isn't the cop chase.”

Then, through a lot of guerrilla marketing tactics, Rise Above targets its core viewers and works with distributor Ventura's muscle to bring them to the mass market, Boyd said. Rise Above's tagline is: “We will lead, they will follow.”

“Our finger's on the pulse because we live and breathe the core marketplace,” Boyd said. “We're hitting this demo that's kind of a mystery. It's not a mystery who they are; it's how to penetrate them -- it's Gen Y and Gen X. At the same time, it's our responsibility to make it available to the mass audience.”

Thinking about the different audiences for Rise Above's cultish product is integral to every step of the process, from production to marketing to retail placement, Boyd said.

“There are definitely two different marketplaces, two different consumers,” he said. “There's the core consumer who's going to associate himself with the retailer who helps create the image, and then there's the consumer who wants to buy into that image.”

But don't call the reality genre in which they live and breathe a trend, Boyd said.

“People who aren't savvy with this content consider it a trend,” he said. “But it isn't a trend, it's a lifestyle, and it's inevitable that this type of content is going to have its own category. Action sports and alternative content aren't going anywhere.”

DVD opens up even more doors for this type of content, thanks to its ability to incorporate music elements or extra features that delve deeper into the subculture, Boyd said.

Rise Above started as Boyd's alternative sports clothing company and has evolved into video productions.

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