When Leroy Bridges dangles a trailer and a teaser in his LinkedIn feed, “We made a TV show!” the comments are pretty much all the same: “How awesome / cool / amazing is this?”
Leroy is Vice President – Digital & Communications at Visit St. Pete/Clearwater and he’s always a step ahead. He enthused a bit more in that post:
“Drumroll, please!!! Excited to share the trailer for a first-of-its-kind, scripted entertainment series produced by and for St. Pete/Clearwater, called Life’s Rewards. The show premiered at the Sunscreen Film Festival in St. Pete on May 1. This amazing project wouldn’t have come to fruition without VISIT FLORIDA and Miles Partnership.”
What Makes A Good Story?
Sure, everybody talks about “storytelling.” But what truly makes a story good? A memorable story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. It needs action, a setting, and characters that capture audience attention. And a great story expresses elements of conflict and resolution, tension and release, mystery and revelation, losses and gains, setbacks and comebacks.
(We checked in with an expert.)
“And storytelling needs to be entertainment first,” says Ryan Thompson, Senior Vice President at Miles, who operates the in-house studio at Miles Partnership called Odyssey. “Because if we don’t tell a great story, we can guarantee that consumers won’t engage with it.”
What Makes a Good Story Great?
Ryan should know. After all, he notes, it’s no coincidence that he named his film business Odyssey that was later acquired by Miles Partnership. (P.S. Next time you speak to him, ask Ryan about this excerpt from his professional profile: “Passionate about collecting life experiences, he once stood in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean within 24 hours.”)
Speaking of oceans, think of books and films that are top-of-mind for their unmistakable destination settings. From the 8th century epic journey told by Homer in the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey” to Eat, Pray, Love in 2010, which ones stick with us and why?
Back to Visit St. Pete/Clearwater
Ryan dropped us a hint on the plot. This story centers on Dan Kinney, a privileged guy who, through a series of unfortunate events, finds himself stranded at the iconic “pink palace” Don CeSar hotel on St. Pete Beach. Good news, he’s got enough loyalty points to stay for six months. “When Dan’s life blows up, he finally finds ‘Life’s Rewards.'” We won’t give away the rest.
Ryan adds, “If we get the story right, this couldn’t have taken place anywhere but this place. We covered every corner of Pinellas County to edit down to 100 minutes across eight episodes.”
How Do I Get Started?
We wondered about the right approach for destination storytelling in particular. Does one begin by filming the destination and then work in a story line?
“Actually, you must craft the story first,” Ryan explained. “Ensuring that people feel good about it is an important part of our unique approach at Miles / Odyssey. Because humans are built to appreciate conflict and resolution, the human interest elements are critical to your success as a storyteller.”
“This is a totally first-of-its-kind television show that’s entirely produced by and filmed in the destination where the story takes place, said Steve Hayes, president and CEO of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater. “It’s a new frontier for destination tourism marketing in hopes to capture target audiences via streaming platforms, which we’re confident will happen, given the show is so binge-worthy.”
Bravo to Visit St. Pete Clearwater for being the first to launch a destination-focused TV series. The question now is, “Who’s next?”
Watch Life’s Rewards! on Amazon Prime Video starting the week of May 10. In addition to Amazon Prime Video, the series will also be available on Watch.VisitFlorida.com, YouTube, GoUSA TV and Places.Travel. Written by Tom Crehan and directed by Damian Fitzsimmons.
Winner: Sunscreen Film Festival’s “Breakthrough Streaming Series”
Ryan Thompson: Contact: [email protected] | 214-960-2974
You can watch all eight episodes here: https://amzn.to/3uzSGOB