How to use Instagram hashtags correctly for effective social media marketing?

Instagram is the next big thing in 2020. The platform is a hot favourite among millennials and Gen Z kids. A recent report by Sprout Social reveals how 64% of Instagram’s user base is between 18-29yrs.

Business holdings are continually trying to capitalize on the traffic generated by Instagram. And hashtags can make or break your social media game.

Adding a hashtag or two to your pictures increases user interaction tenfold. The trick is to use them correctly. Brands which have successfully mastered the art of optimizing hashtags enjoy better visibility and customer engagement.

In fact, social media marketing is so relevant to modern times that most B-schools have also included it as part of their curriculum. Marketing students often get case studies and projects on Instagram marketing strategies.

Business graduates, swamped with deadlines, often each out to professional marketing assignment help services. Let’s find out some more tips and secrets about Instagram hashtags and how it boosts customer engagement.

Need for hashtags

Although Twitter birthed hashtags, it was Instagram that put them on the map. And since then, marketers are losing their sleep over this refreshingly new strategy. But before we get into all that, let me clear a few essential pointers.

What exactly are hashtags? And what purpose do they serve?

Well, hashtags comprise of a word or a phrase accompanied by a hash (#) sign. There are no spaces between the words, although you can capitalize some letters in-between.

These hashtags categorize your content and make it easier for viewers to identify your posts. Hashtags also create better brand engagement, SEO ranking and overall awareness about your product or service.

Hashtags now appear in multiple platforms. You can use them on blog posts, social media updates, Instagram captions, tweets etc. For instance, if you are a movie blogger, then adding cinema-relevant hashtags can give your website a big boost.

Instagram marketing tactics

Before we delve deeper into the multiple facets and perks of hashtags, let us first understand the relevance of Instagram. A basic SWOT analysis of the platform would highlight its key strengths and weaknesses.

For instance, Instagram has a user-friendly interface. It is intuitive, eye-catching and has an extensive database. However, brands need to be at the top of their game if they want people to find them.

As per a recent report by Forbes, Instagram has some great revenue-generation tools. About 80% of the accounts follow at least one business page. It contributes to a brand’s web presence, increases SEO ranking and helps people connect with influencers.

Relevancy and placement

Hashtags are useful only when they are used correctly. You cannot merely add random words with hashtags and expect to trend overnight. There are specific words, terms and phrases that are already trending on social media.

Also, these words and key phrases must be relevant to your line of business. For instance, if your brand belongs to the organic fashion sector, then hashtags like #OOTD, #natural, #organic etc. works well.

Conduct thorough market research. Know about your customers and their changing preferences. Also, keep an eye out on your peers. Analyze the kind of hashtags they’re putting up and the responses it generates.

Specificity and uniqueness

Hashtags double the scope of user engagement, putting you at the top of the game. But this is not an instantaneous process. New brands and business holdings need to find their voice, their niche, their USP in order to create unique content about your brand on social media. In order to grow your brand, it is important that you diversify your content across all social media platforms. Creating user generated content is also a very natural and yeilding method to create unique content for your brand.

Hashtags can be excellent marketing tools, and they set you apart from others. Develop hashtags that are catchy, chic and easy to remember.

A catchphrase, your brand name, an ad-line- anything can be a hashtag. Note that hashtags are not full-fledged sentences.

I would recommend readers to keep their hashtags small, compact and to the point. This is because hashtags don’t have spaces in-between. Long words and phrases become incomprehensible and difficult to decode.

Capitalize on existing hashtags

There are multiple hashtags on Instagram that already enjoy a large following. If your marketing team cannot come up with new hashtags, capitalize on the existing ones.

For this, you need insights on what your customers are searching for these days. These hashtags can crop up on a variety of topics.

Read up on current political, social, economic events, celebrity weddings, new releases, updates in the tech industry etc. And if you find a trending hashtag, try to incorporate it in your post as organically as possible.

Remember, there must always be a direct or visible connection between your post and the hashtag used. It makes it easier for Instagram to gauge your content and categorize it.

Research on the right set of hashtags

Hashtags add value to your brand, provided your content is readable and relevant enough. There is no point in adding great hashtags to your posts if they are of no expected value.

 Users tend to gravitate towards posts that enhance their experience and cater to their interests. The quality of your posts and the hashtags you use are interdependent to each other.

Merely having good content gets you nowhere unless you back it up with creative, trending hashtags. It also helps to learn how you can fund your instagram campaign while you are busy promoting it.

Similarly, a right hashtag is of no use unless added on to a great post. A smart combination of both these elements is what you need for a better SEO rank.

Don’t overdo it 

This is something I cannot stress upon enough. Too much of a good thing can turn bad for your business. And when it comes to social media marketing, balance is the key.

Don’t stuff your posts with multiple hashtags. It would only confuse the algorithm and irritate your viewers.

Instead, place a few unique, relevant, authentic and trending hashtags strategically for maximum impact. Learning from Hubspot blogs is a great way to learn more about social media marketing and this guide on instagram hashtags is why they are so highly spoken of in the marketing community. There are multiple platforms where you can find trending hashtags online. Check the SEO score of these tags before adding them to your content. On average I’d recommend you use 2-4 hashtags per post, not more.

The future of hashtag marketing

Hashtags are a crucial addition to any social media post. What’s more, you can add hashtags to pretty much every social media network.

Recently, even Facebook and LinkedIn are accepting hashtags with their captions. Facebook, in particular has some creative marketing  gimmicks up its sleeve that completely changes the face of hashtag marketing

As a growing brand, it is essential to keep up with these trends. Evaluate and collaborate with influencers, learn more about your market and use tools to check the visibility of the hashtags you use.

Instagram recently launched a new feature where users can follow trending hashtags and view all the posts tagged under it. It is an excellent initiative for business accounts to boost their reach and engage more customers.

Although, ensure that your content meets the community guidelines laid down by the platform. Failing to do so might get your post deleted or worse reported for abuse.

The bottom line

Everyone wants to project a filtered, picture-perfect version of their life on social media. Social media networks are a medium of self-expression and advertisement.

These platforms give us the space to share our experiences with the world. It can be something as trivial as posting a selfie or a serious post discussing the political issues of your nation.

And with more and more people joining the social media bandwagon, it has become a thriving marketplace for brands.

Author’s Bio 

Author Bio: As a technology enthusiast, Bella contributes to open-source projects. She is the co-founder at Top My Grades and delivers online marketing sessions at online tutoring platforms like Expert Assignment Help & Assignment Essay Help helping students with writing essays and assignments. Beyond work, you can find her gardening in her backyard accompanied by her dogs – Birch & Bailey.

Top Websites For Online Marketing Courses

Online marketing has become very popular these days. Marketing skills are required not only in the field of marketing but also in various other business platforms. So, if you wish to master the skills of marketing, then the best way to do so is to go for an online course. A good online course will help you to gain all the basic knowledge related to marketing which will help you to prosper in your career. Also, it will save a lot of time and you will be able to complete your course at your own pace. Some of the top educational portals which provide a course in marketing are Udemy, Hubspot, etc.

How to choose the best online course for marketing?

If you type online marketing courses in Google or any other online portal, then you will be flooded with names of organizations which provide courses in marketing. Some of the websites will provide you with courses that mainly focus on Search Engine Optimisation while some courses focus on social media marketing. However, your objective should not be to focus on one particular area of marketing. Instead, you should pick up a course which will help you to master all the major concepts of marketing.

Here we have enlisted some of the best online marketing courses for you so that you can pick your favorite course and become a highly skilled marketing professional.

Udemy online digital marketing course

 Udemy is one of the best online learning platforms for those students who wish to learn a topic from scratch. It provides hundreds of courses on various topics. These courses include marketing courses as well. In total, it provides 12 courses on marketing and they are:

  • Market Research
  • WordPress Setup
  • SEO
  • SEO Writing
  • YouTube Marketing
  • Google Ads
  • LinkedIn Marketing
  • App Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Google Analytics
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Facebook Ads

When it comes to certification, the course is not free of cost. You will have to pay a course fee of 199 USD to get a certificate. However, you can even get it at a huge discount. In order to get the discount, you will have to log on to Udemy and add the course to your wish list and wait for the discount.

Why should you go for this course?

This course will help you to master the basics of digital marketing. It will also enable you to understand how the different components of digital marketing work together. Users can avail the best of online courses at Udemy for as low as $10.99 using Udemy coupon code on the app or website.

Google Digital Marketing Courses

The online course platform provided by Google to its users is called Digital Garage. This platform provides a number of online courses to the users in subjects related to business and career development. Few of the marketing courses offered by Google include:

  • Fundamentals of Digital Marketing (includes certification)
  • How to make sure customers find you online
  • Social Media Advertising
  • Mobile Marketing
  • How to promote a business with online advertising (Google Ads)

The duration may vary according to the course. Some of these courses are of two to three hours and some of them can even be of 30 to 40 hours. After successful completion of the course, you will receive a certificate which is accredited by Interactive Advertising Bureau Europe and The Open University.

Why should you select this course?

This course is extremely good for beginners as it will help you to have a clear concept of the basics of digital marketing. Also, the certificate which you will get is globally recognized and it will help you to boost your career.

SEMRUSH Academy:

SEMRUSH is an organization that has the best digital marketing tools. So, in order to help the users to use the various tools efficiently, they have also started an online course on digital marketing. The course provided by SEMRUSH is one of the best courses in marketing. It is absolutely free of charge and upon completion, you will also receive a completion certificate. The course consists of both video material as well as textual documents. The courses are taught by highly professional digital marketers who will explain each of the topics to you in detail. Some of the important topics covered in this course are:

  • SEO
  • Content Marketing
  • PPC
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing

This course covers the basics as well as the various advanced topics of digital marketing. Some of the general topics which are taught in this course include social media marketing and SEO fundamentals.

Why should you go for this course?

This course is taught by marketing professionals who have been working in the industry for over years now. Also, after completion of the course, you will be able to use all the tools provided by SEMRUSH properly which will help you to build up a successful career in marketing.

HubSpot Online Marketing Courses

Another great way to learn digital marketing is to follow the online course provided by HubSpot Online Academy. HubSpot is one of the most renowned organizations in the field of digital marketing. It provides various SEO tools to its users. Some of the important topics which are included in the course curriculum are:

  • Inbound Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Contextual Marketing

Upon completion, you will receive a globally acknowledged certificate. Also, the course is completely free of charge.

Why should you choose this course?

This course covers all the important topics of digital marketing. It is taught by experienced professionals who have spent years in the digital marketing industry. Also, you will be able to use the HubSpot which is very popular in this market.

Copyblogger Online Marketing Course:

It is one of the most popular courses in digital marketing. This course will teach you the various aspects of online marketing. It mainly specializes in internet marketing and content marketing.

All the study materials and the ebooks will be sent to you via your registered email address. All you have to do is register for the course using an email id.

Why should you go for this course?

A very important aspect of marketing is writing good content. This course will teach you how to write engaging content for your online business. This course is meant for both beginners as well as for advance.

We belong to an era of digitalization. Everything around us is getting digitized. So, in such a time, it is very important for us to have proper knowledge of digital marketing. No matter in which field you belong, good marketing skills will definitely help you to prosper enormously in your career. In order to learn marketing skills, it is of inevitable importance that you choose the right course for you

Before enrolling for a course, you should carefully go through the course descriptions and the topics covered in the course. Only then should you register yourself for the course.

Santa and Pop Culture: How Santa Subdued Marketing

Christmas and Pop Culture: How Santa Capitalizes on Consumerism

Everybody loves Christmas.

That holiday is one of the most important holidays to exist, celebrated by diverse nations in all parts of the world. It is a period of happiness and festivity – with a sprinkle of chaos. Most often, we get into the Christmas mood right on December 1st – and remain high-spirited until Christmas Day.

But, how did we come to love and cherish Christmas so much? Is there a recipe for his popularity despite the progressive nature of modern society? Let us rephrase that: how did Santa look before he discovered marketing?

Everybody’s Favorite Guy

It is not a coincidence that we mentioned marketing and Santa in the same sentence.

For the society of today, marketing is everything. Promoting products boosts sales, and what does that bring? Well, a lot of things, but most importantly, it brings the need to buy more.

Before the 20th century, society relied on customs to strengthen the cultural heritage of each nation. Although we still do that, we now have more ways to preserve the traditions. Santa is a perfect example of that.

For us, marketing today is an inseparable part of our daily routines. We are so used to commercials that, for the most part, do not even distinguish them from the program that we are watching. Advertisements are not restricted to TVs anymore. Billboards, newspapers, the internet – wherever you go, you will see them. And how is Santa connected with marketing? Well, the two concepts do have something in common – they rely on the people’s attention to remain present.

The correlation between Santa and marketing dates to the beginning of marketing as we know it. Pop culture, an effervescent machine that powers the entire social framework, utilizes Santa as the trigger for the collective spirit. To put it simply, society needs Santa as a bow to tie around the gift box. And Santa needs marketing to remain on the gift wish-list.

Who is the real Santa?

Just like most popular icons in our history, Santa’s real identity remains a mystery.

Questions of his age, profession, location, and general existence have been used as settings for numerous movies and TV shows. Is he a mixture of several traditions and folk stories? Is he a real man living in Finland? No one knows. And for the most part – it does not matter.

Call it a suspension of disbelief, but we all know he does not exist (sorry for the spoiler). Nevertheless, we still watch movies that revolve around him and his potential identity. A mysterious old man that you help on the street, who later is revealed as Santa who gives you a gift back? Classic.

Santa is a cult, an image that is used as an attention-grabber for society. And it is a well-oiled machine that we happily believe in. And we keep asking for more.

More Than Pop Culture

Pop Culture is teeming with Christmas references. At first, we had a holiday genre that focused on holidays in general. However, as movies specifically dealing with Christmas increased in numbers, a new genre emerged. Now, the Christmas genre is present in almost all categories of entertainment.

Films are the most obvious example, but let us not forget music, shows, and games. For example, try thinking of Mariah Carey without singing “All I Want for Christmas”!

When it comes to TV shows, almost all shows must have one episode that happens during Christmas preparations. And it usually airs in December, because the theme provides excellent ratings. The gaming sphere is abundant with Christmas paraphernalia and symbolism as well, including online casinos. Santa is very popular there, and some of the best Christmas-themed slot games can be found here on MoneySlots website. Considering the extent of Santa’s presence in everyday media, it is safe to say – Santa transcended even the popular culture.

Shop, Shop, Shop

After you have seen it in commercials and laughed about it in your favorite show, what is the last thing you are left to do? Well, buy it. Marketing and entertainment have slowly guided us to the most important part of the festive enterprise. Shopping! While classic gift hunting in malls is gradually becoming an archaic activity, people still shop.

As a world that relies on shopping for the continuation of industry, we are used to buying items. We buy things all the time but buying for Santa and Christmas has more prevalence than mundane things.

The season is all about family values, sharing, caring, and big presents. Everyone needs Christmas gifts for their loved ones, even with the chaos that accompanies the shopping. And the chaos that typically ensues has been portrayed in numerous movies. It is not even a Christmas stereotype.

Nevertheless, all that is quickly forgotten once the festivities begin. No one cares about it, as long as the house is full of presents and Santa is coming.

MovieMike's "Devil" Cast Interviews

At Movie Mikes, we are a big fan of horror movie genre. “Devil” is sure to be a roller coaster thrill-ride, I knew I needed to get interviews from that cast. I set out to contact everyone that I could get a hold of and below we have some amazing interviews from the cast of the film.

I really hope everyone enjoys these interviews as much as I did doing them. These people in the film are so great. Each and every one of them has fantastic stories from the film and they were a pleasure to interview. I would hope that I could have the opportunity to talk with them again very soon.

Enjoy and please leave comments!

DEVIL CAST INTERVIEWS:

 

 

Interview with Jacob Vargas

Jacob Vargas is appearing in the recent horror film “Devil”.  He is known for his roles in “Next Friday”, “Death Race” and “The Hills Have Eyes 2”.  A big thank you to his friend Clifton Collins Jr. for setting up this interview. Movie Mikes was able to chat with Jacob and discuss his career and his latest film “Devil”.

Click here to purchase “Devil” on DVD or Blu-Ray

Mike Gencarelli: Tell me about working on the film “Devil”?
Jacob Vargas: It was great.  I have always been a big fan of M. Night’s work.  One of my favorite films is “Unbreakable”.  I thought it was a fresh take on an action hero movie.  Not your typical “Hey I got bit by a spider, now I am swinging on a web in a costume”.  I was looking to do something special on this.  Early on when I signed on, there was no script.  It was all top secret.  I think we all went on faith.  I didn’t get a chance to work with a lot of the guys in the elevator, though.  I play Ramirez, the security guard. Chris Messina plays Bowden.  With his role and also Matt Craven and Joshua Peace, we are the four guys in the security room.  Our goal is to try and get these guys out of the elevator before anything else happens.  All of our stuff was shot later on so we didn’t really have a lot to work with.  We had a green screen monitor that we looked at the whole time.  We had to create our moments of fear and anxiety and make those moments feel real.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your character, Ramirez?
Jacob Vargas: My character is the spiritual one.  He has a lot of faith.  He is also the narrator of the film.  He talks about the story that his mother told him about the devil.  So Ramirez, with his background, realizes that what is happening here is this phenomenon called the Devil’s Meeting, which has been documented throughout time and history.  It is the moment when the devil/Satan will present himself in some form and gather a group of people to toy with, torture them and eventually steal there souls.  My character realizes that this is what is happening and it is his theory.

Mike Gencarelli: Did you get to meet M. Night? If so what was it like working with him?
Jacob Vargas: Night was there in the very beginning.  He was there for the table reading, wardrobe and camera tests.  He went back to Philadelphia and worked on something else.  He tends to really believe in his directors and he really lets these guys do their own thing.  He would just kind of come in, watch over and give some advice.  For the most part, he was just an observer and watched everything go down.  He was very happy with it.

MG: What was the most demanding aspect of working on the film?
JV: For me having really to believe and see the devil’s face, it is an intense experience for my character.  That was tough maintaining that level of intensity for long periods of time.

MG: Going back a little, how was it working  on the film “Next Friday”?
JV: It was such a fun project to work on.  A lot of people don’t get the slight homage to Cheech’s character in “Up in Smoke” with the beanie and all that.  I am a huge Cheech and Chong fan.  It was a fun character to portray and being able to bring out the comedy of that character.  It is amazing how it resonates and became such a cult classic.  I still get people yelling my lines down the street and quoting it back.  It is love man, its great.

MG: What made you want to start your own production company, Third Son Productions?
JV: I formed the company because I wanted to do more producing in my career.  I did a movie a while back called “Road Dogs” with Clifton Collins Jr.  and myself.  We had a blast.  We shot it for $150,000 dollars over 17 days.  It was a labor of love.  I caught that producing bug and I decided to form a company and started producing more projects.  I also want to create vehicles for myself because there is not a lot out there, especially for Latino actors.

MG: What do you have planned next?
JV: We have a couple of projects in the pipeline.  I am also developing a TV show sitcom with Cheech Marin.  I am really excited about that.  Cheech will be playing my dad.  I think it is going to be awesome. I launched a web channel with my best friend Clifton Collins Jr. called the TheTVFantastic.com.  It is a way for us to stay creative in between gigs and hang out with each other and laugh.

Click here to purchase “Devil” on DVD or Blu-Ray

Interview with Geoffrey Arend

Geoffrey Arend is known for his comedic roles in such films as “Super Troopers” and “The Ringer”. He is starring in the recently released horror film “Devil”. Movie Mikes had the chance to conduct Geoffrey’s first ever phone interview so it was an honor to speak with him about his roles and his new movie, “Devil”.

Click here to purchase “Devil” on DVD or Blu-Ray

Mike Gencarelli: You started your career as the stoner in “Super Troopers”, how did you get the role?
Geoffrey Arend: It’s funny this guy, Pete Lengyel, who is the Executive Producer on the movie, saw me in a play like two years before. He remembered me for two years and tracked down the pizzeria that I was working at in New York. He called me up like three or four times. Finally I called him back, I was like “Why is this creep calling me, who is this guy? He asked me to come and audition, which was pretty wild. I do not even think the casting director liked me, but the Broken Lizard guys did. Pete said “I am funding the movie, hire this kid!”. I only had one day on set for the first scene. They ended up calling us back then for the scene at the end. That first day was so fantastic, I have never been on a movie set before, it was pretty wild.

Mike Gencarelli: You stole the show in “The Ringer”, tell us about working on that film?
Geoffrey Arend: It was great. The Special Olympics were part of that movie, so half the cast was handicapped in some way. I have never had an experience like that before. I might have one or two great lines in the movie. For the most part I didn’t really have a part. Barry Blaustein, who directed it hired me. The movie was supposed to be made three years before it was made because I remember auditioning for it. When I auditioned in front of Barry, we were going through the script and at some point I was in character and I threw the script down in frustration. Barry is a funny guy, he used to write jokes for Eddie Murphy on SNL. Barry started asking me questions and I stayed in character and I started answering all of the questions. I was improving the whole thing for like five minutes. He called up and said “There are a couple of holes in the movie I want you to fill. I don’t have a character for you. I would love for you to play any of the characters in the movie but I really want you to come in and do what you did in that room for the entire movie”. The improv is difficult alone. But improv of a mentally handicap role, it was kind of making me a little crazy. You kind of can’t write it,  it is a kind of stream of consciousness. The ice cream line, “When the fuck did we get ice cream?” I remember I did it and everyone laughed, except Peter Farrelly. He started yelling “How am I supposed to make a movie, if everyone is going to laugh?!” I thought, “What happened, I finally came up with something that worked”.

Mike Gencarelli: You not only starred in “500 Days of Summer,” you also sang, did you enjoy working on that film?
Geoffrey Arend: I remember reading the script. After I finished it, I turned to my wife and said I really want to be in a nice movie like this. It was a really nice movie. I went in and met Marc Webb, who couldn’t have been a nicer guy. I went in three times. On the third time, I went in and read with Joe Levitt, who was awesome. The second time I went in, he made me do one of the scenes as an Indian guy. He was laughing so hard he fell off the couch and hit his head on the floor. [laughs] It was the craziest thing I have ever seen. I looked at him and said “I have to get this role now, right?” It felt like a bunch of romantics made this film, that is why it came out so nice.

MG: Tell us about you role of Vince in “Devil”?
GA: I have made it this far without saying much. I remember I had to sign this whole thing. M. Night will come and beat the crap out of me. I grew up in New York and I started out doing theater. I got married and the day after I got married, my wife left to do a movie and I went to Toronto. We didn’t see each other for two weeks from the day after we got married. I was in Toronto with these people and it was like the greatest thing that could ever happen to me. The whole movie was setup in one place. All of my scenes, except the entrance into the elevator, everything takes place in one little room. It was like theater. I was trying to figure out how to stand in a tiny room with four other people and how to make my body act in this tiny space. It was the best experience ever. The Dowdle Brothers are absolutely fantastic directors. I haven’t seen it myself but I am very excited to see it.

MG: You have done a lot of comedy, was it hard to switch to horror/thriller mode?
GA: I didn’t find it hard at all. It was one of those challenges you come home from everyday and you’re exhausted but you just wanna sleep because you worked to your highest ability. That was how I felt after that movie. Getting to the question, the comedy-drama thing, I go at it the same way.
You treat whatever situation you’re in realistically and to behave under the given circumstances realistically. I mean it is not any different than “The Ringer”. I can try and say a bunch of things that sound funny or I can sit there and try and figure out how my character’s mind works.

MG: On a scale from 1 to 10, how scary is this movie going to be?
GA: Depends if you are claustrophobic or how you feel about elevators. When we auditioned, we didn’t get the script. I think that is the standard practice with M. Night’s movies. When I read the script, I had the same feeling when I read “500 Days of Summer”. Two totally different movies but I thought it was going to be a really good movie. You never know how it is going to turn out but when I first saw the trailer I think they nailed it. It looked really scary. I think it is going to be up there, around 8 and up, just from the trailer.

Click here to purchase “Devil” on DVD or Blu-Ray

Interview with Danny Trejo

Danny Trejo is the star of the recent film “Machete”.  “Machete” is Trejo’s first starring role and starred off as a faux trailer from “Grindhouse”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Danny about his new movie and his career.

Click here to purchase Danny’s movies

Mike Gencarelli: How did you originally get involved with Robert Rodriguez?
Danny Trejo: Originally I cast for a movie called “Desperado”. I walked into his office and he told me “You remind me of the bad guys in my high school”.  I told him “I am the bad guys in your high school” and we just hit it off.

Mike Gencarelli: Your character Machete was featured in Robert Rodriguez’ movies going back to first “Spy Kids”, how was that character created?
Danny Trejo: Robert Rodriguez told me about Machete when we were doing Desperado.  Everyone thought I was the star of the movie.  Nobody knew who Antonio Bandaras was.  Everyone was crowding around me and asking for autographs.  Robert came up and said, “Hey they think you are the star of the movie” and I told him “I am, aren’t I? and he cracked up.  He told me about this character Machete and said that I am perfect for it and that was 15 years ago.  He made me Machete as a joke.  He named me Uncle Machete in “Spy Kids”.  When we did the fake trailer for “Grindhouse” he said “At least we did the trailer, just in case we can’t do the movie”. Then the fans demanded we did “Machete”.  We got more response from “Machete”, then we did “Grindhouse”.

Mike Gencarelli: With “Machete” opening up number two in the country, you must be thrilled right?
Danny Trejo: Its awesome.  George Clooney had a bigger budget and his film, “The American”, opened up on a Wednesday.  We opened on Friday like regular and we came close.  Just to be in the room with George clooney is an honor.  I giggle everytime they compare us [laughs], I mean come on its George “Fucking” Clooney.

MG: What has been the hardest film that you worked on?
DT: I think “Machete” because I was there everyday.  Usually I come in two or three days.  I would kill a couple of people and call everyone motherfuckers and leave.  On this one I was there everyday and Texas had 70 days of over 100 degrees. It was pretty brutal.  It was my first lead and also the first Latino action hero.  It was fun but a lot of work.

MG: I hear your son and daughter are also in “Machete”
DT: I got my whole family in the business.  My daughter Danielle, was the machine gun toting mechanic.  When they gave her a machine guy, they asked if she knows how to use it and she said, “Yeah”.  Rodriguez laughed and said “Trejo’s Kid” [laughs]. My son Gilbert played Jorge in the movie but he didn’t have any lines.  It is so unbelieveable, he is 22 years old and putting me in a movie called “Skinny Dip”.

MG: Tell us about “Skinny Dip”, it also co-star Michelle Rodriguez?
DT: Yeah, It’s me and Michelle Rodriguez so far.  We just started working on it, we are trying to get Eric Roberts and some other people.  We’ll see, they’ll jump aboard.  It is going to be one hell of movie.

MG: You also play Johnny 23 in one of my favorite action films, “Con Air”, must have been a blast to work on?
DT: YEAH!! CON AIR!! [yelling]. Yep, that was the biggest test of testosterone that I have ever had in my life.  EVeryone was in competition.  If you would spit, somebody would spit further.  Pretty soon, 25 guys would be spitting [laughs].

MG: What else are you currently working on?
DT: We are getting ready to sell a movie called “Vengenance” right now, it should be coming out this October.  After this I am flying to New York for a premiere of a movie called “Modus Operandi”.  It was done by my son’s business partner.  He is name is Frankie Latina.  Yeah man, we are doing it all.

MG: You are also involved with some charity work, tell us about it?
DT: My wife and I have a foundation called Canine Compassion.  what we do is we help people that rescue animals.  We put up fundraisers and Jillian (Reynolds) is going to get involved with us from “Good Day LA”. It is great.  I also work with drug addicts at Western Pacific Medical Corp. You got to give back man!

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Interview with Electra Avellan

Electra Avellan is known best for her role of one of the Babysitter Twins in “Grindhouse”. Electra also appears in this year’s “The Black Waters of Echos Pond and “Machete” with her sister Elise Avellan. Movie Mikes had a chance to talk with Electra about her roles and how was is working in Hollywood.

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Mike Gencarelli: Tell us you involved working with Robert Rodriguez?
Electra Avellan: Robert Rodriguez was married to my Aunt Elizabeth and I have always have known him as my Uncle. When I was 16 years old, he thought I was too young for “Sin City” and too old for “Spy Kids”. He told us to work on our English and a few years later when my sister and I were 18, he asked us to come and audition for “Grindhouse”. I auditioned first and the role was originally only for one babysitter. My sister and I started arguing. He wrote down everything that we said and thought it was perfect. He was said he wanted us both in it and wrote the Babysitter Twins based off that.

Mike Gencarelli: You and your sister, Elise Avellan have appeared together in a few movies now together, how do you find it working with your sibling?
Electra Avellan: I love it, it is amazing. I have been working with her for as long as I can remember. My mom is a very well-known actress in Venezuela. She got us in the industry there and that is where we started. When we moved here, we got the opportunity to break into the industry together which was a great opportunity. We are seen as a package deal. Even though my sister is not 100% interested in pursuing the acting career at the moment, she is still open to working with me. She is my best friend.

Mike Gencarelli: We recently interviewed Sean Clark and you worked with him on “The Black Waters of Echos Pond”, can you tell us working on that film?
Electra Avellan: Sean Clark is a good friend of mine, I love him. We met a few years ago right after I finished filming “Grindhouse”. He told me about the convention scene and wanted me to work with him. I went to a couple conventions with him and loved it. He told me he has written a movie and wanted my sister and I to be in it. The movie was so good and the script was phenonomal. Sean is awesome to work with and it was such awesome experience. The director Gabriel Bologna is insanely creative, he has so many great ideas for the film. Sean Clark took all of his ideas and made it into an amazing screenplay and that is what you see in the movie.

MG: Are you a fan of the horror genre?
EA: Yah, tell me about it. I have never liked horror movies. I have though been drawn to “The Exorcist” and the Freddy Kruger movies. I have always liked but never watched all the time. I rather have scary than gorey. “Saw” movies are too much for me. “Hostel” movies are too much for me. I love the horror more now that I am apart of it though. It is not real, but I play with those emotions and I create awareness in different aspects of life. I love it, I just love it.

MG: You recently appeared in “Machete”, how was it working on that film?
EA: Oh my God, it was life changing. It was so incredible and amazing. Working with that cast was so great. Jeff Fahey is a good friend of mine and working again with him was awesome. Danny Trejo has taught me most of the things I know in the American industry. He has taught me so much. Lindsay Lohan is a phenonomal actress, I learned a lot from her. Robert Rodriguez was great, he treated me like a princess. It was a blessing.

MG: What else are you working on?
EA: I have two projects, the first is called “Perfectus” with Danny Trejo, Malcolm McDowell, Sid Haig, Dana Rosendorff and my sister and I. It is a sci-fi action thriller, you will love it. The other is called “Ushers” and it was written by Nicholes Cole and Jeff Tuttle. Lindsay Lohan and Edi Gathergi are in it with me and it is a really cool comedy/action movie about these kids in the 90’s that work in a movie theater and who start a gambling ring in the theater. It is so great. I can’t wait for you to see it. You will love it.

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Interview with Denise Nickerson

Denise Nickerson is know most for her role as Violet Beauregarde in 1971’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. With the 40 anniversary of the film approaching, Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Denise and travel back in time to visit the set of “Willy Wonka” and talk about her experience on the film.

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Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your experience working on “Willy Wonka”? Was it a positive experience?
Denise Nickerson: I was one of the few kids that had actually worked as an actor before “Wonka.” I had already been doing “Dark Shadows.” I used to get mobbed every day coming out of the studio. And I was also doing a Broadway show at night so I was getting up at five in the morning, going to the studio and doing “Dark Shadows.” I’d get off at four, go home and eat dinner, then go to the theater. I was getting home every night around eleven. And my schooling was all through correspondence. This was the late sixties so of course there was no FedEx. I would get a week’s worth of school assignments in the mail. And I had no tutor because a tutor wasn’t required in the state of New York. I would have to complete every single assignment and mail it back to the school. And I got straight A’s. I would usually do my work while doing the Broadway show. The more important role you had in a show decided what floor you were on. The stars were always on the first floor. I was on the fifth floor. And the performance is piped into the dressing room. So I’d do my homework while listening to the show and sometimes in the middle of a problem I would stop, run down five flights of stairs and do my three minutes. Then I’d run back upstairs, do some more math problems, listen and when it was my time again, out I’d go. It was an unusual childhood. When it came time for “Wonka,” I was so tickled pink when I went on the first interview because I was going to be able to work with kids. I started in the business when I was 2 ½ and I very rarely got to work with other kids. I worked with Henry Fonda. I worked with Margaret Hamilton. I worked with Lee Grant…Gig Young (note, with the exception of Ms. Hamilton all of these actors won Oscars). These were all adult actors. Very famous actors but still, they were adults. So when I got the script I was like, “Oh my God, there’s going to be kids and chocolate. How cool can that be?”

Then when I heard they were filming in Germany I thought, “Oh my God, a foreign country. I’ve got to get this role.” And when I got it I was over the moon. I went over and met the other kids and it was great. There was never the internal strife that you sometimes see with kid actors…or any actor for that matter. We became good friends and had a wonderful time. It was a great memory for all of us. They flew us back in 2003 for a documentary and we all stayed in the same hotel. You know how they say you can’t go back in time? I kid you not I was 13 again. We all picked up like we had just seen each other yesterday. Even though we were older and having different discussions, we were interacting the same way we did thirty some years earlier….what a legacy. I am so fortunate. What you see on screen does not mirror what I saw in reality. As beautiful as it looks on screen…the chocolate room was one entire building. It was a fantastic experience doing it and, almost forty years later….well I never get tired of it. How lucky was I? And how lucky AM I, to be a part of this legacy.

Mike Gencarelli: Were you familiar with the book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” before working on the movie?
Denise Nickerson: I actually read it on the plane over to Germany. I had just finished eight weeks in California doing one of the very first television movies of the week (“The Neon Ceiling”). I flew back to New York. I was there for 36 hours, just enough time for my mother to unpack my summer clothes, pack my winter clothes, and get on a plane to Germany. I arrived the day they were shooting the “I’ve got a Golden Ticket” scene. I arrived on the soundstage and, on a break, Mel Stuart (the director) came over to me and asked what shoes I had brought with me. For whatever reason we had to bring out own shoes. I only had one pair of winter shoes and he went off on my sister, who was my chaperone. “How could you only bring one pair of winter shoes!” But those were the shoes I wore. And during filming one of the shoes broke and new ones had to be ordered from New York. It’s funny how one pair of shoes can stick in your mind for so long. And they were ugly shoes. They looked like something the Pilgrims wore. And I wore them for eight weeks. And when the one broke I remember thinking “you can create a chocolate river but you can’t create a damn shoe?”

Mike Gencarelli: What was it like filming in Germany? Did you get to tour the country at all before/after filming?
Denise Nickerson: On the weekends my sister and I would go to Austria, which wasn’t too far of a drive. We saw some magnificent castles. I wanted to stop in London on the way back but I had another engagement book so there wasn’t enough time between when I left Germany and when I had to start my next arrangement. And I’ve always regretted that…I still want to go to London.

MG: Why did you chose to leave acting shortly after Willy Wonka?
DN: True story…I moved out to California when I was sixteen, which was probably the worse career move I could have made because I was close enough in age to 18 year olds, so they would hire 18 year olds instead of me. In New York there weren’t any of the Jackie Coogan/Child Labor laws at the time, so I was able to do soaps during the day, Broadway at night and I was able to work 18 hours a day. But when I moved to California the law there said I had to do four hours of school work, then four hours of work. So at 16 they were hiring the 18 year olds. It was really a bad career move. So I kind of limped along. I did a movie with Melanie Griffith and Bruce Dern (“Smile”)…I did “The Brady Bunch.” I did a few things but it was real sporadic. Which was fine because all I really wanted to do at this stage of the game was be a normal kid. I had been working, usually two jobs at a time, since I was 2 ½, plus going to school. So I hung in there for a few more years. I did my last film (“Zero to Sixty,” which starred Darren McGavin and Lorraine Gary) right before I turned 21. I had the lead role…I repossessed cars. The people at First Artists (the studio that produced it) decided to tinker with it and it was never released. So if you see it on DVD give it a look. It was 1978 and I knew that the average “life” of a television actress was about 10 years, which would have taken me to age 31. I had always wanted to be an attorney. However, because there were no Jackie Coogan laws in New York my parents had spent all of my money. And it was a lot. In a slow year like 1966 I made $46,000. But all of my money was gone and my hopes of being an attorney were dashed. So I’m 21 with no money to go to college. I know I need to get a job. Back then you didn’t need a college degree to get a position. It’s much harder today. But I realized that if I started at the bottom and learned through “on-the-job” training, I might be able to make it. I had decided I didn’t want to act anymore. So the first thing I did was go cut my hair. And my agent just lost his mind…as did my mother. But I went ahead and got a job. I’ve really had two very different lives. I had that life. And now I have this life. And I’m very blessed. I’ve seen both sides of the coin. I’m a very rich person. You know what’s really interesting about us “Wonka” kids? We still get along and we’ve all ended up pretty normal people. And we had a great experience. I mean, nobody got to see what we saw. Even if you see it on the big screen you will never be able to recreate what I saw. And I had the weirdest experience after I was done shooting. I’m back at school in New York and we’re at the Museum of Modern Art. All of a sudden some kids start pointing at me and I turn to my best friend and she says, “Oh my God, you’re turning blue!” I go into the ladies room and look in the mirror and everything…my face, my hands, my neck…is blue. So I was it off and go back out. A few minutes later I’m blue again! This went on for 48 hours. Finally I learned that the “blueberry” make up they had used in Germany had blue food dye in it and it was coming out through my pores!

I remember when I was in the blueberry costume, rather than have me get out and back into the costume Mel Stuart left me in the suit hanging from the rafters while we broke for lunch. He gave a crew member instructions to turn me 180 degrees every five minutes. So for five minutes I’m looking up at the ceiling, the next five minutes I’m looking at the floor.

MG: How long did it take to film that scene?
DN: A whole day of filming. Eight hours. The day before they had me lay down on a piece of paper and they did a tracing of my body. The next day I come in and there is a giant Styrofoam ball with a place for my body in the middle. It was like an Oreo. So they put me inside the ball. And after five hours of flapping my arms, I was pissed off! If you look at my face in the film, I am not acting…I’m pissed. And those damn Oompa Loompas did not have their blueberry drivers license so every time they’d try to push me out the door they’d lose control and I’d slam into the door frame. Every time it would happen I’d hear Mel yell, “Cut! Do it again.” And I’d think to myself, “you sons of bitches!” Watch the film…by the 32nd take I’m looking at these little guys and thinking “look here, ass holes, if we don’t clear that door frame I’m making you shorter then you already are!”

MG: What do you think about the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp remakes for Willy Wonka and now the confirmed “Dark Shadows” remake?
DN: That Johnny Depp is always on my tail. He’s trying to follow my life. He must ask himself what else can I do that Denise Nickerson did? It’s obvious that he’s trying to mirror my career! (laughs) The local television station filmed me going to the theatre to see it and talked to me afterwards. The Denver Post found out that the girl who plays Violet in the remake was also from Denver so they ran a story stating that Denver has cornered the market on blueberries.

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Interview with Paige O'Hara

Paige O’ Hara is known for voicing the character of Belle in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”. She has since reprised that role numerous times for Disney. Paige is also a veteran of the New York stage, she made her Broadway debut playing Ellie May Chipley in the 1983 Broadway revival of “Showboat”. Since that she has been in numerous production including Broadway’s “Les Misérables”. With Disney releasing its timeless classic “Beauty and the Beast” on Diamond Collection Blu-Ray/DVD Combo pack release of on October 5th, Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Paige about her career and her work for Disney.

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Mike Gencarelli: How did you originally get involved with Disney and become to wonderful character voice of Belle from “Beauty and the Beast”?
Paige O’ Hara: Well you know, I was working in New York as a Broadway actress for many years. I read about the movie in the New York Times and asked my agent to get me an audition. I went in and auditioned several times. It was odd because they would close their eyes when we would audition, then send the tapes back to the producers in in LA. Eventually the directors and producers came in and I auditioned in front of them and they would close their eyes again. So out of 500 actresses I was the lucky one to get the part.

Mike Gencarelli: You also have reprised your role as Belle numerous time in other Disney projects, how have you become connected to the character?
Paige O’ Hara: It is a lifelong effort. I am constantly recording different project for the CD-ROMs, the sequels and whatever comes up. It is kind of great because I made my voice higher when we started to record and Howard Ashman said “No no no no, we want that womanly sound”. That is why now as I get older I can still do Belle.

Mike Gencarelli: Are you excited about the release of “Beauty and the Beast” coming to Disney Bu-Ray?
Paige O’ Hara: Yes, I didn’t even have a Blu-Ray player. My husband went out and bought one. We watched it and after seeing the movie a few times, I was absolutely blown away by it. The clarity, the depth, the detail was just remarkable. It was something I had never seen before with the original. The technology has improved so much. What was so wonderful and as an artist, I also paint for Disney as well, I could look at the characters that were hand drawn and see details and little things like Belle blushing. These are little things you couldn’t see in the original DVD. It was remarkable. I really got goosebumps watching it.

MG: Was it fun having a cameo for Disney’s live action “Enchanted”?
PO: Oh I loved it! Wasn’t that fun?. I thought It was so great that the director Kevin (Lima), brought myself and Jodi Benson and Judy Kunn and we did little cameos. Actually Jodi’s part ended up being pretty big. It was great fun. I really enjoyed it. I got a lot of fan mail from it.

MG: Tell us about playing the role of Fantine in Les Misérables on Broadway for almost 10 years?
PO: It is amazing. It was a tough part to play. You were exhausted by the end of that play. Mostly when I was in New York for the first 15-20 years, most of the roles I did were comedic roles. Elle in “Showboat” and Ado Annie in “Oklahoma”. I did a whole series of Jerome Kern’s Princess Theatre shows before “Showboat”. We did those at Carnegie Hall. I kind of switched over and got to play “Evita” for quite a long time off and on at different companies. I changed over to being leading lady then.

MG: How did you realize you have such a beautiful voice, have you sang your whole life?
PO: Yes, pretty much so. As little kid, I was in acting class. I would sing and dance around the living room with my mom to show records, in particular Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand and Ella Fitzgerald. I probably realized around 10 or 11 years old that I actually had a voice. I had been already studying acting so then I started studying signing with an ex-New York opera performer who had retired in Fort Lauderdale. I worked with her and then went to a performing arts high school my mom was the director of in Florida, then went back to New York at 17.

MG: You just realized a new CD correct?
PO: Yes the CD is actually one that I revised. It is a lullaby CD for children. It is so funny, I have a lot of girlfriend that I work with at the Luxor that have children and little babies. They say that that CD just does the trick. One little boy that screams all the time teething, she put on the Merry-Go-Round song and she said it’s a miracle, it puts him right to sleep. That is a good thing. It is an easy listening CD.

MG: What else are you currently working on?
PO: I am currently working at the Luxor in Las Vegas, we are in our fifth year of “Menopause: The Musical”. I play the aging soap star. It is great. It is a great empowering point for women, it makes them feel great about themselves, makes them laugh a lot. It is really fun.

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Video Interview with Akihiro Kitamura

Akihiro Kitamura has written, directed, and starred in two feature films, “Porno” and “I’ll Be There With You” (starring Daniel Baldwin). He was featured in TV shows such as VH1’s “New York Goes to Hollywood” and MTV’s “From Gs to Gents” and also NBC’s “Heroes”. His most recent role was in the horror film “The Human Centipede (First Sequence)”. Thanks to the beauty of Skype, Movie Mikes was able to get a chance to chat with Akihiro about his role in “The Human Centipede” and his career.

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Click here to purchase “The Human Centipede” on DVD or Blu-Ray

Interview with Richard de Klerk

Richard de Klerk stars in the film “Repeaters” which is a gritty mind-bending thriller about three twenty-somethings living in a mandatory rehab who find themselves waking up to the same day over and over. The film will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival on Sept. 13th. Richard was last seen in the award winning film “Cole” and received a 2010 Leo Award nomination for “Best Lead Performance by a Male in a Feature Length Drama” for his portrayal of the title role. The film is being distributed by IFC Films and will be available on September 15th via their Sundance Selects label which is currently available in over 50 million homes across the United States. Movie Mikes had a chance to talk with Richard while he was attending the Toronto Film Festival to talk about his films and his love for movies.

Mike Gencarelli: You are in the “Repeaters”, opposite Dustin Milligan and Amanda Crew, tell me about the film and your role?
RK: “Repeaters” is a story about choice. It is framed in a rehab institute. Myself, Dustin Milligan and Amanda Crew are in a rehab facility and we are about try our step nine, which is about the people that we hurt. The day goes horribly and we are all in a horrible place.  That night we all get a shock of electricity. We wake up the next morning in bed, no memory of how we got there. We realize the day has started to repeat. The film takes a turn since we were unable to get away with things in the past, maybe we can get away with things now. I take kinda that a little too far at one point in the film. It becomes more about if you slate is wiped clean, do the consequences even matter? It is a thriller but it has that nice little drama element too. I think it will play really well.

Mike Gencarelli: You also server as producer on the film?
RK: I did yes, my sister and I took the reign on it. We actually have a production company that we formed a few years ago. The first film that we did together as a whole family, my mom, dad, sister and I was “Cole”. We did “Cole” with Carl (Bessai) as well. Carl and I were talking and we really enjoyed working together on that film and we said why don’t we do it again. He had a script optioned and we decided to do “Repeaters”. It was a really good experience producing. It was really cool playing the actor as well because it was something so different. “Cole” was such a heartfelt beautiful film and “Repeaters” is a great and dark but also beautiful film. So my producing role on both of them kind of took charge more so when the film was wrapped. For example finding deals in Vancouver for special effects or finding composers. It is really cool and I think it also makes you a better actor.

Mike Gencarelli: Are you exciting about the premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next week?
RK: I am very very excited and a little nervous. I do not think that is every going to go away. I was nervous last year when “Cole” premiered too. I think that is a natural reaction. I am very at ease now but I think that once the film starts I will be very nervous.

MG: Tell us about your film “Cole”, in which you play the lead?
RK: I play Cole in “Cole”. “Cole” takes place in Lytton, British Columbia, Canada. It is about three hours north east of Vancouver. He is a small town guy, a really good guy who has aspirations of becoming a writer. He drives three hours to the city every day and takes a writing course, under the objection of his sister who wants him to run the family gas station. Cole also helps his sister take care of their mother.  While following his ambition and taking the class he falls in love with an African American girl played by Kandyse McClure. It really becomes about balancing your life with your obligations, your family, your ambitions and your love.

MG: Has the film been released worldwide yet?
RK: “Cole” has played all over the world now. People in Moscow really responded to it. That is the power of film to me.  That is why I am in this business because if you can make a film that is so blatantly set in one location and it speaks to people on the other side of the world, that is really cool. Even though it was subtitled, all the laughs and emotions came through at the right time. Everywhere in the world, you have people who have ambition and who move to the big city against their family wishes who want them to stay in the small town. It is all about balance. Some people came up to me and said I went through that exact same thing. Hopefully people will say the same thing about “Repeaters”, I do not know about the day repeating but it would be kind of cool. It comes out on Sundance Select video on demand on September 15th.

MG: Do you plan on doing any more producing or perhaps directing?
RK: Yeah, I working right now on a documentary that I started shooting last year. It is about a charity based out of Holland, they are called Miles 4 Justice. They are a sailing team and every mile that they sail they raise money from pledges. I was just there recently and I had the kids filming interviews of each other. I am going to go through that footage pretty soon. It will be kind of an on going project. I am really excited.