Monday, May 31, 2010


We’re officially a week away from our World Premiere, and things are kicking into high gear. Our publicist started sending out press releases last week, and we’ve already gotten write-ups in Pretty/Scary, Fatally Yours, Horror Movies & Stuff, 28 Days Later Analysis, and a cool article in L’Ecran Fantistique sandwiched between “The Hobbit” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Pretty amazing that a little movie we made in Barbara’s backyard could end up in the same news feed as those two.

It’s a good start, but none of this happened by itself. It’s a DIY world in today’s film industry. Even our friends who have gotten their films distributed can’t count on having someone else doing a marketing campaign. In short, it’s up to us. If you’ve done creative work, YOU are going to be in charge of getting it out there.

The good news is, it’s easier and cheaper than ever to spread the word about your movie. Here are several FREE options we’ve done to make people aware of “Fugue”:

- Started this blog, which we (mostly) update regularly.
- Started a Twitter account
- Created a Facebook fan page
- Wrote a press release and sent it to the above websites

Then there’s the marketing for which we’ve shelled out a little dough:

- Hired a designer to create an awesome poster
- Used that design to fashion a website
- Printed posters
- Printed 1000 postcards

All of the above cost less than $1000, which is pretty amazing in today’s marketplace. But we wouldn’t have gotten that price if we hadn’t been willing to do a lot of it ourselves. Juliane, our production designer/co-producer, offered to learn HTML so we wouldn’t have to pay someone to make a website. Barbara and I took turns sending the press release to various websites. And we all banded together to shoot photos of Abby that ended up creating the poster.

You have to be willing to put 100% into it, for no pay. If you don’t love it that much, how can you convince anyone else to give you 90 minutes of their time? Look at everything we have to compete with: TV, studio movies, sleep. To make people notice your little movie, you have to be willing to go the extra mile.

Or the extra six miles. That’s how much I walked on Friday, hand-delivering our postcards to various spots around Los Angeles. I hit the Third Street Promenade, trod the breadth and length of the entire UCLA campus, and papered the Sunset Laemmle with our postcards. We also recruited friends and family members to leave postcards in Sherman Oaks, USC, Cal State LA, and the Hollywood area.

It’s really not clear how much this will translate into actual butts in the seats on Sunday, but the real goal is to expand awareness of “Fugue.” If we pass out 1000 postcards, get 100 people to visit the website/watch the trailer, and get 10 people to see the movie, then that’s pretty good. More importantly, getting people talking about it will drive up our web traffic, and will expand our profile.

It seems to be working: our website traffic spiked 235% last week, and our IMDB pages nearly doubled in visits. Hopefully we’ll keep getting good reactions once people watch the movie. Because when it comes to independent film, you have to be awesome just to stand out from the pack.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Two Thumbs How?

This morning, Juliane gave a copy of “Fugue” to Susan King at the Los Angeles Times. She’s writing a piece on Dances With Films, and our publicist made sure she was aware of our movie and was going to watch it. In fact, she took the DVD out of Juliane’s hand in person. Even though newspaper budgets are low, it says something about our publicist that she gave the delivery personal attention.

Since we were in the middle of the mix and operating on less than five hours of sleep, we didn’t appreciate the enormity of what had just transpired. Our little backyard movie is going to be watched, and hopefully reviewed, by the largest newspaper in Los Angeles. Whether we get a good or bad review, the exposure will increase the visibility of our project exponentially.

What’s ironic is, I used to be a film reviewer. I’ve dismissed and lauded plenty of movies without a second thought as to who actually made them. In fact, I noticed that it was actually easier to write bad reviews – there’s just more synonyms in the English language for “crappy.”

This brings up an interesting thing about making movies. We’ve been working on “Fugue” since December of 2008. Up to this point, it’s been ours to do with as we wish. We’re still making decisions every day that slightly change the film (hopefully for the better). But once we put it out there, it’s no longer our movie. It will take on a life of its own. People will be free to think whatever they want about it. And in this, the Age of Interwebs, they will also be free to post those thoughts online for all to see.

All of which puts us on pins and needles a little bit. Our baby is officially out of our hands. Ms. King could give us a great review, a lousy one, or she could choose to not to mention us at all. It’s a bit of a crap shoot, really – we’ve all been in bad moods when we’ve watched films, and no doubt it colors our perception of them.

So I have a favor to ask the regular readers of this blog. If you like us, if you support us, send some happy vibes Susan King’s way. If she has a nice day, it may make a huge difference to the future of “Fugue.”

Thursday, May 20, 2010

We have a POSTER!!

It’s been a long time coming, but it's finally here. Thanks to Ryan, our awesome designer, and Stephanie, who took the source pictures. And of course, Abby, who could sell ice cream to an Eskimo. Check it out:

Getting to this final design has been an interesting and illuminating process. We have been talking about the poster since last June, and the core team is very happy with our final design.

Ryan was kind enough to include an alternate design, as well:

We like this one, too, and plan on using it for postcards and sections of our website at the minimum. But in the end, we thought the “shoulder poster” had a bit more visceral punch.

Since we’ve now picked a winner, I thought it might be fun to look at some of the also-rans. None of these are “bad,” per se, they just ended up not selling our movie in what we thought was the best way possible.

An early, alternate take of Ryan's. Cool colors, but we worried about comparisons to the color palette of "Avatar."

Totally different direction. Love the upside-down head, but it ultimately felt more like an arthouse drama than a scary, ghostly thriller.

Our very first attempt at a poster, done with a still from the shoot. We've come a long way. Thanks again to Ryan, Stephanie, Abby, and Juliane for their help with the whole process!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

PR or Not PR

Things are moving fast now for the “Fugue” team. We’re three weeks away from our World Premiere at Dances With Films, and while it’s going to be a busy 21 days, we’re pretty on top of our to-do list. Color correction is nearly finished, we start the week-long audio mix tomorrow, and the poster is in its final tweaks.

But first, a bit of news: “Fugue” has been given a screening time of 9:30 PM on Sunday, June 6. Tickets are now available for pre-order through the Dances With Films website:

Just click on the “Tix” button. Tickets are $10 if you pre-order, and $12 at the door.

We’re excited about our screening time – it’s on a weekend, it’s a night slot, and it’s not the first or second night of the fest, so it gives us a bit more time to get ready.

In terms of getting ready, one of the biggest decisions we have to make (and soon) is how to handle public relations. Dances With Films highly recommends hiring a PR firm, so we (really Barbara, as I was in Europe for two weeks) talked with a company about repping “Fugue” for the festival.

PR is kind of a slippery thing. Your goal is to build buzz and visibility for your movie, but accomplishing that is another matter. Reviews help (the higher profile the better), as do write-ups on websites, advertising, Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, and on. You hope at some point that awareness will take on a life of its own, but there’s no guarantees. You could do all of the above and still, only your mom will care about your movie.

But you can certainly weigh the odds in your favor. Hiring a PR firm will certainly give us a shot at publications and websites we don’t have on our own. But here are the terms from the company: for $1000, they will spend the next three weeks sending our DVD and emails to any website or publication we can come up with. They may also help set up interviews and behind the scenes articles. There is, however, no guarantee that any of the sites or publications they contact will look at “Fugue” sideways.

So what do we do? We’re mulling that over right now. Being a low-budget movie, a thousand bucks is a lot of money to us right now. But if it helps get us a distribution deal, it’s a thousand bucks very well-spent. And at this moment, that’s the goal: to get a distribution deal.

Later on, we’ll focus on getting audiences to see it. Right now our key audience is a very small group of people in the film industry: those who buy feature films from indie filmmakers and release them to the public.

Nowadays, you can get their attention in a number of ways. You can get noticed at a film festival. You can have a YouTube clip that hits 200,000 views. You can get a great review in “Variety,” the industry’s top business publication. You can build excitement on websites. You can put a page on the Internet Movie Database (which has already gotten us a couple emails from distribution reps). You can have a friend or work associate recommend it to them. And on, and on.

We’d like to do all of the above. But do we need the help of a PR firm to do it, is the question. Right now, the answer seems to be “yes.” This is an industry built on contacts, and the more contacts you have, the better your chances are to get distribution (or really anything, for that matter). Hiring a PR firm may not guarantee anything, but it will significantly increase our chances.