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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ask her how the date went with the nice Stanford doctor

Jane again again.

We just got word that Laemmle will be screening our film in the Los Angeles area. Very exciting! RED DOORS will be opening on September 22 in LA. This is the same day that we will be opening in San Francisco so we're going to attempt some magic to juggle cast and filmmakers between all the Q&As.

So for LA we will be in either the (Laemmle) Music Box or the Sunset 5 and we will definitely be at the Playhouse in Pasadena. In SF we will be in either (Landmark) Opera Plaza or the Embarcadero Center. Exact theaters to be determined soon.

As for our grassroots update, Georgia, Mia, and I have been working overtime reaching out to organizations, planning group outings, and coordinating marketing material logistics. Georgia has become poster and postcard central. I think she's going through about 100 posters a day - getting them out to organizations, storefronts, and volunteers. She's been juggling all this while doing interviews and speaking engagements every day.

Mia has been coordinating our trailer and print distribution while heading up (re: running the whole damn thing) our west coast grassroots outreach efforts. She's also been managing cast logistics and coordinating our opening weekend Q&A schedule.

I've been pressed into multimedia duty: encoding promotional videos for MichaelB to put up on websites, designing graphical emails and promotional jpgs. Helping to plan the parties and get-togethers for opening weekend and a whole slew of unsexy business and legal stuff in the background.

8 more days until the opening. We have so much to do, but I can't wait...

Friday, August 25, 2006

I'll get the tickets, it'll be fun

Jane again.

For those of you living in Manhattan who ride the M15 bus down 2nd Avenue, you may have noticed the blindingly beautiful bus shelter ad for RED DOORS on the SW corner of 42nd and 2nd. If you haven't, go take the M15. It's air conditioned!

In addition to the two posters up on 42nd and 2nd, we also have shelters up at Broadway and 133rd, Houston and Allen, and Pike and Division.

We were able to get such great advertising exposure - FREE - courtesy of the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting which has a great marketing credit available to productions that are majority-based in NYC. You may have read about the city's "Made in NY" tax credits intended to attract production back to NY. What you may not know is that even small films like ours can benefit from the incentives.

So, go make a film. Make it in NYC. And get a beautiful bus shelter of your own.

For more information about the "Made in NY" program, check out their website.

Hey, if any of you want to take stupid pictures of yourself in front of one of our bus shelters you can email them to There might even be a prize involved for the best picture. Maybe a pair of tickets to our premiere...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sweet 16...

...and counting down. Hard to believe that we're just over two weeks away from the Sept. 8th date that has loomed large but hazy on some distant horizon -- for the past few months it's felt sort of like the mid-90s, when the year 2000 seemed too sci-fi to ever actually come to pass. And now we're closer to 2010, which is too strange to contemplate in my current sleep-deprived, wild-eyed state. Georgia, Jane and I have been running ourselves ragged on both coasts, trying to release this movie the way we made it -- with 5 bucks and sheer force of will. We are fortunate, however, to have been blessed with many angels who are working side by side with us to bring this labor (and I do mean LABOR) of love to its biggest audience yet -- this is by no means a comprehensive "thank you" list, but in honor of our 16-day mark I'm singling out 16 of our teammates in this Caucus-race...

Ira Deutchman (and everyone at Emerging Pictures, especially Josh Green and Vincent Nebrida) -- Ira has truly been our godfather throughout this entire process, and we would be lost in the proverbial woods without his guidance. Booking theaters? Check. P&A budgets? Sure. Grassroots marketing? No problem. We are learning from the master.

Wellington Love -- our publicist extraordinaire, without whom we would be hopelessly buried among the sea of bigger, more "commercial" films with the types of elements press tends to covet (movie stars, gratuitous sex & violence, Scientology scandals). Despite our underdog status, we've managed to achieve a strong toehold in both the local and mainstream press -- this is no accident, it's the work of the best-named man in the biz: "Love. Wellington Love."

Michael Bartholow -- Michael B is our right-hand man in innumerable ways. I hereby dub him the official RED DOORS Online-Marketing-Guru-Podcast-Master-Street-Team-Warlord-Overall-Idea-Generator-Guy. Tough to fit on a resume, but Michael B will never, ever have trouble finding gainful employment -- we're selfishly keeping him to ourselves until the big, bad studios catch on and start showering him with dolla' bills, y'all...

Gary Lee -- an amazing man (with apparently limitless energy) who has singlehandedly brought our film to the attention of the corporate community. Gary has coordinated a number of corporate diversity events around RED DOORS, which has already had an impact on that all-important opening weekend box office figure. He's also inspired many other people to aid in our efforts and rally for the cause -- he's like the student council president, prom king, and captain of the cheerleaders all rolled into one.

Finally, I have to mention our wonderful cast -- Tzi Ma, Freda Foh Shen, Jacqueline Kim, Elaine Kao, Kathy Shao-Lin Lee, Jayce Bartok, Sebastian Stan, Rossif Sutherland, Steve Rowe, and Bridget White. They have been so supportive and understanding as we stumble blindly through this process for the first time. Everyone has generously reached out to their own friends and networks to garner support for the movie, and they continue to spend much of their time and energy promoting the film through their presence and positive energy.

Conclusion: This has been a group effort from beginning to (almost) end. Filmmaking is not a solitary experience, nor should it be. It is a communion with creative cohorts, friends and supporters -- and it thus represents a microcosm of the human experience. Q.E.D.

Song du jour: Art Brut, "Formed a Band". 'Cause we did, and we're taking this show on the road.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

I mean, some place you'll meet... people

Jane here.

Hopefully by now, our email blast has gone far and wide. I wanted to take a moment and explore this concept of box office math.

As Georgia explained in her letter (posted below), opening weekend box office is critical for independent films. It's critical for all films but the metrics of success are slightly different for a small film opening in limited release. Because limited release films are only out on a few screens at a time, the absolute box office number ($135,634,554 for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, for example) is irrelevant. The appropriate number is the per screen gross, calculated simply as the total box office gross divided by the number of screens shown. And weekend numbers are typically tabulated for Friday through Sunday.

Let's look at the per screen gross of some recent independent film releases. All numbers are from

LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE -- 7 screens -- $52,999 avg
HALF NELSON -- 2 screens -- $26,991 avg
QUINCEANERA -- 8 screens -- $11,925 avg
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN -- 5 screens -- $109,485 avg
SAVING FACE -- 6 screens -- $12,517 avg
BETTER LUCK TOMORROW -- 13 screens -- $27,751 avg
NAPOLEON DYNAMITE -- 6 screens -- $19,444 avg
GARDEN STATE -- 9 screens -- $22,346 avg

In general, a per screen gross above $10,000 is considered a success. Above $15,000 is a big success. And above $20,000 is an incredible success that should go wide. Of course several other factors should be taken into account such as the total number of screens (reaching a high per screen gross over just one screen should be taken with a grain of salt) and what markets the film is opening in.

Now let's look at the potential numbers for RED DOORS. We are opening on two screens in New York City on September 8. The Angelika Film Center (capacity: 260) is screening our film 6 times a day and they charge $10.75 per ticket. The ImaginAsian Theater (capacity: 285) is also screening our film 6 times a day and charging $10 per ticket. A quick calculation yields a total possible gross of $101,610. The highest per screen gross for us would therefore be $50,805. Both theaters offer discounts to seniors and children so the total grosses would likely be lower.

Our goal is to break $10,000 per screen over opening weekend and short of Georgia, Mia, and I finding 2,000 friends to show up over the weekend, we will be very dependent on grassroots marketing and reviews.

The scary truth is that while critics' reviews of big-budget blockbuster films have almost no impact on box office performance (BO performance for these films is more correlated with advertising spend), reviews are absolutely essential for limited release independent films.

For example, HALF NELSON, a Sundance film starring Ryan Gosling that opened on 2 screens in New York City grossed $26,911 per screen over its opening weekend. It has an 89% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and, more importantly, got glowing reviews from The Village Voice and The New York Times - the two pillars of New York film criticism.

On the other hand, THE GROOMSMEN, a film by Ed Burns starring Burns and a recognizable cast including John Leguizamo, Brittany Murphy, and Jay Mohr opened on 3 screens and grossed $8,682 per screen over opening weekend. It has a 56% rating on Rotten Tomatoes classifying it as a "rotten" film. THE GROOMSMEN got a mediocre review from The New York Times and a scathing review from The Village Voice.

So the moral of this story is to go out and buy tickets for opening weekend. Your efforts will have much more impact than waiting until the second week of release.

Oh, and pray for a great review.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Opening in Three Weeks!

My giddiness about the upcoming release of RED DOORS has been mixed with a new dose of anxiety today. I was walking around NY and saw all these wild postings (large posters pasted onto scaffolding, etc) everywhere for studio films. I realized that our film does not even have a budget for wild postings (we barely had $ to make postcards!). We are truly indie and truly poor. I was suddenly seized by this fear that folks who may be interested in seeing RED DOORS may never even know about the film since we have no marketing budget. But then I also realized that we may be able to reach our audience without having to buy up big ads in the New York Times if we could effectively leverage the power of the internet.

Therefore, I have started to email out the following text to my friends and family in the hopes that they will forward it to their friends and those people in turn will... well, you get the point. :)

So, PLEASE feel free to copy and paste the below text and email it out to everyone you know. With the power of the web, it is not mere lip-service to say that your individual actions can really make all the difference!!




I am writing to you today because RED DOORS is opening theatrically in New York on *September 8* and we urgently need your help!

The first weekend box office determines if a film will sink or swim. Independent films like ours are left to fend for themselves each and every week. RED DOORS is currently scheduled to open in three cities: New York (Sept 8), San Francisco (Sept 22), and LA (date TBD). The opening weekend numbers in New York will determine how wide and how long our film lives.

RED DOORS is a dark comedy about the Wongs, a dysfunctional Chinese-American family coming of age in New York. The film has been described as AMERICAN BEAUTY meets JOY LUCK CLUB.

RED DOORS was an incredibly difficult film to get made. In the financing stages, studio execs who loved the script wanted us to make the Wongs a Caucasian family, or make the lesbian couple heterosexual, in order to have more commercial potential. So Jane, Mia, and I made RED DOORS on our own terms: completely outside of the Hollywood system. We raised our own financing, maxed out our credit cards, and called in favors in order to create our labor of love.

Needless to say, RED DOORS does not have a marketing budget to buy expensive TV commercials or billboards. We have only the power of community and grassroots outreach. Supporting independent films like this one is like voting in an election. You are voting with your feet and your dollars. If you are interested in seeing more diverse cinema, the best way to let the system know is to buy a ticket. If enough people vote for change, then the system will ultimately take notice.

So what can you do? There are two very easy things you can do right now from where you are sitting. Either one of these actions will help us tremendously!

1. Please forward this email to all your friends and any groups you think may be interested in a film like this.

2. Buy tickets and come see the movie! Especially on opening weekend if you can. Tickets are already available on-line now. And if you don't live in a major city where the film is opening in September, consider your purchase to be a donation to the cause. If the film does well enough in its opening weekend in New York, it will
come to the rest of America as well!

To find more information about the film, to view the trailer, to read our blog, or to buy tickets, please go to:

Let's send Hollywood a message that we want to see more diverse faces and stories in film and on TV!

The RED DOORS cast and filmmakers will be at both the Angelika and ImaginAsian theaters in New York during opening weekend for Q&As.

Hope to see you September 8 at the theaters!

Thank you,
Georgia Lee

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Simple Pleasures

Our poster just went up outside The Angelika Film Center this week!! I was so excited that I ran over to the theater and took pictures!! Forgive the low-res as it was taken from my phone. As it happens, I am a huge Michel Gondry fan. So needless to say, I was thrilled to have my first film poster next to THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP!

The poster and trailer just went up at The ImaginAsian Theater as well!! Harder for me to run over to though. Would be good exercise... The NY Mayor's Office of Film and Television has also graciously donated five bus shelters to us. We are waiting to hear where our RED DOORS posters will be going up with them. Once we hear, Jane and I are going to run around Manhattan and take a picture with each one! Waiting for the M34 has never been so exciting :)

I can't believe it is really happening. Our little labor of love is FINALLY making its way to the big screen. It has been a difficult, winding path, and we have been fighting for so long to make this happen. And now only 22 days to the opening. So much to do. So many emails to write. So many bus shelters to visit!



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