I wanted to take some time and describe the absolutely phenomenal job our volunteer street team did for us during Tribeca. For those of you in New York City, you probably saw the posters, postcards, pins, light necklaces, t-shirts, and fortune cookies that they tirelessly handed out all around town. Super props to michaelb and Peter for their outstanding work.
It's not easy to market a small indy film with almost no promotional budget. We made a lot of tactical decisions - i.e. printing up hundreds of cheaper 11x17 posters and only a handful of the much more expensive 27X41s. But we also knew that we would have to stand out to get people's attention.
Early on in our strategic process, our sales agent Ira Deutchman had the brilliant idea to turn the simple image of double red doors into an icon. No explanation necessary. People may not know that Red Doors is a movie, but they would surely reconize the iconography of a pair of doors painted red. This is not dissimilar to the pi symbols that were spray painted everywhere when Darren Aronofsky's film was released.
I just loved Ira's idea. I immediately went home and threw together a mockup of the double red doors on Powerpoint (my design software of choice). It took me about 5 minutes. The version of the doors that you see on our pins and t-shirts are essentially that same design I dashed out in Powerpoint. Then I went online and googled all the custom swag places looking for a place that could make square buttons. It was only by accident that I discovered these really cool plastic necklaces that glow with red light.
The necklaces have been a huge hit. Several people have offered to buy them. They are great at parties and at screenings - the red glow looks really cool in a dark room. Everybody asks about them when they see them so it's a great entre into talking about the film.
We also ordered custom fortune cookies with fortunes that say things like "RED DOORS bring harmony and happiness" and "You will prosper with RED DOORS." Michael and Peter handed these out in front of the theater and in nearby Chinatown. We also befriended the manager of Lili's, a Chinese restaurant right next door to the main Tribeca movie complex in Battery Park. He let us hang up posters in every one of their windows and he served our custom fortune cookies to his customers throughout the opening weekend of our film. Peter convinced a number of Chinatown merchants to also display the poster in their windows. This was one of our key strategies. Since we didn't have the resources to poster everywhere, we made sure to poster only in exclusive locales where we could be the only movie featured.
Our publicist Wellington Love (yes, his real name) was also instrumental in helping us build buzz. We brought Wellington on board fairly early in the process, over a month and a half before the festival started. While we had been prepared to wait until the official Tribeca press screenings to kick off our publicity machine, Wellington very prudently advised us to start sending out screeners right away. At the time, we only had screeners of the rough cut and wanted to wait until our final edit with sound design and color correction was complete. But Wellington insisted that we send out screeners immediately. He was absolutely right.
It turns out that most of the magazines and even some of the daily newspapers begin their story assignments and planning process well in advance of the festival. Obviously the big films with big stars (i.e. The Interpreter) will naturally get press coverage. Building early awareness is key to standing out from the throng.
I believe that Wellington's proactive and early promotion of our film directly led to our great coverage in The New York Times, Time Out New York, New York Magazine, and the Daily News. Once we got the name of our film out there, I think the subsequent buzz developed organically.
We are really eager to take our show on the road. Our next stop is closing night of the VC Film Festival in LA on Thursday night (May 5th). I am very tired and very happy and looking forward to spending some time in sunny California
Kathy with our guerrilla marketing
superstar, Michael Bartholow