“To have someone come back six nights in a row to the same event was unexpected and really successful.”

- Trevor Jones, Producer, WATER OF LIFE

Director Greg Swartz and producer Trevor Jones initially figured they’d lose money on marketing THE WATER OF LIFE, their first documentary feature. Since the film’s topic is whisky, they had grand plans to host screenings during the annual Islay Festival of Malt and Music, and conduct events at other whisky festivals in the U.S. and Scotland throughout 2020.

When the pandemic forced them to alter their plans, they explored multiple options for screening the film online. “We wanted to have a sensory element to the film,” said Trevor. “We wanted you to be able to smell it, taste it and feel it too.” Given their desire to create an experiential component for the events, they knew they needed a platform that could do many things beyond just making the film available to watch online. The team decided to go with Show&Tell due to its enhanced functionality and the ability to host live Q&As via Zoom. They appreciated the ability to offer multiple different ticket offerings and packages to attendees.

Partnering with Dramfool to ship tasting flights to attendees, the film team developed a system with color-coded logos that appeared at certain parts of the film so that the viewer could taste the whiskies as they were on screen. Live Q&As included the cast and crew and also featured executives from the distilleries featured in the film, which helped increase social media chatter. Their online events have been so successful that they’ve even discovered that some attendees were coming back night after night.

Working with Show&Tell has opened THE WATER OF LIFE film team’s eyes to the possibilities that self-distribution offers. “We did not want to be distributors, but this process changed our entire idea of how filmmaking operates,” said Jones. “We’ve got a new outlook on how to make films in the future in order to help with distribution.”