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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wasn’t Me. Was it?

Even on bigger Hollywood projects directors rarely have any input or control on how their movies are advertised. However, on micro-budgets this problem is worse. I’ve directed 3 flicks now that have been grossly mis-advertised by distributors and/or producers.

My 1st flick, originally entitled “Shelter: A Monster Movie” was about 7 strangers trapped in a government facility during an apocalypse. There was short dream sequence in the middle of the movie that featured zombies. The distributor retitled the movie “Rise of the Undead” and sold it as a zombie flick.

My follow up to Rise was “Edges of Darkness.” This movie did have a lot more to do with zombies, but wasn’t exactly the action/zombie flick that was advertised. It had more to do with 3 twilight zone style tales of terror (non-zombie related) that all just so happened to take place during a zombie apocalypse. I must admit some culpability here too. The trailers I cut were very heavy on the zombie action. However, it’s anchor bay’s sell sheets that really sold this movie.  ****And I have to admit I do like the sheets a lot. Even if they are a bit misleading, they’ve led to the movie selling very well, which as lead me to other projects.

3rd and worst of all was a faith-based flick I worked on very recently. (Funny how some of the most crooked people in Hollywood are making faith-based movies.) The producers, this time, are selling the movie as starring a couple of name actors, when the two are in the movie for less than 10 minutes of running time combined. Both their sell-sheets and ridicules trailer are straight up deceptive. Would the sales have been that much less if they had just mentioned they were featured? Or just not starring? Bigger budgeted fare often gives top billing to name actors even when they are not actually the “stars,” but this is just embarrassing. The biggest difference between this and my other movies is the distributors picked up the others and then chose how to advertise them. The  misleading marketing plan here was in place before the script was even finished. And before I get any more righteous, I should disclose that I was aware of this when I took the project on. Maybe I didn’t know exactly to what extent they would stretch the truth, but I knew that they would.

Whatever the market is, false advertising is part of our sales landscape. I chose to believe that is rarely malicious or purposefully misleading. There are often just flicks that are difficult to nail down. They are hard to advertise. Smaller distributors don’t have access to the tools to properly advertise all their products, so they do the best they can. “Rise of the Undead” and “Edges of Darkness” were hard films to sell, no doubt. But it seems more often than not in micro-budget cinema the distributors don’t even try. They just look at what is selling and how they can force the movie you give them into that category with no regard for actual content.  

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