I feel that before you read this post, I should tell you that it covers a subject that I am a huge fanboy (err…fangirl) of- Kevin Smith. Kevin Smith has what I would consider a cult-like following. He began as an indie (of sorts) filmmaker in Red Bank, NJ. His first film was Clerks, which he shot for a mere $27,575 (having to sell his prized comic book collection and max out multiple credit cards to acquire). Clerks was a success and Smith was able to sell the film at Sundance.
While I could go on-and-on about Smith’s body of work, I won’t. I’ll skip it and get to my point. Although, please indulge me long enough to mention that Dogma is not only my favorite movie of his, but my favorite movie- ever. Period, end of discussion.
Now, getting to my point. Smith has directed 9 movies since Clerks. His latest movie is Red State. Red State has a great cast- Michael Parks, Ralph Garman, Melissa Leo, John Goodman, Kevin Pollak, etc…This movie seems to be a far cry from his normal foul-mouthed, joke filled movies starring Jay and Silent Bob. Red State is a horror movie loosely based on the Westboro Baptist Church. He not only threw his normal movie blueprint out the window, but tossed the normal marketing plan as well.
The movie cost $4,000,000 to make. That is a very low figure for a movie, especially when you look at blockbuster movies such as the $500,000,000 Avatar, or even lower budget movies such as No Country for Old Men ($25,000,000). Basically Smith didn’t want a production company to attach millions of dollars to the film in a marketing effort, when he had to fight for the money to make the movie to begin with. He recently took Red State to the Sundance Film Festival, where production companies believed the movie would be up for an auction type sell. Instead, Smith purchased his own movie for $20. Smith intends to distribute his film through his newly created company, SModcast Pictures.
Smith said, “We believe it’s a pyrrhic victory to simply “buy” an opening weekend by pouring millions of dollars into TV spots, billboards and print ads. As storytellers, why not instead use our creative abilities that resulted in a film in the first place to also creatively SELL that film directly to our public?” Instead Smith is going to “self-distribute our film, Red State, in an admittedly unconventional, yet extremely cost effective, word of mouth/viral campaign.” (The above quotes have been taken from The Red Statements).
And that FINALLY brings me to my point! Kevin Smith has long used the internet to self-promote himself and his endeavors, however in the last year he has taken his use of social media marketing to a new level. In 2007, Smith debuted a weekly podcast (SModcast) that he does with his producer and longtime friend, Scott Mosier. In 2010, Smith created a podcast network that features 9 weekly podcasts as well as intermittent podcasts. One of his podcasts is all about the making of Red State! New podcasts are also being added constantly. But more than anything, Kevin Smith is an avid Twitter user! I follow many celebrities and he seems to be one of the few that “get it”. Twitter is a conversational tool, and he understands that. He doesn’t just post things, he engages in conversations with his fans. In 2009, Smith held an uninterrupted 24 hour Twitter based Q&A! I will admit that I read every single one of his answers.
Smith plans to use his understanding of social media and his built-in cult-like fanbase to marketing Red State without a huge marketing budget that a mainstream studio would have funded. He is engaging in a viral/word-of-mouth campaign that is unlike anything seen in the movie industry. Red State will release to theaters October 19th, but in the meantime Smith is holding special viewings during his Q&A tour throughout March. (I have a ticket to the March 14th showing in Springfield, OH). The sale of tickets to the special screening, along with merchandise sales will help fund the print making for the film to be distributed to more theaters. According to the film’s site, the per-print cost is roughly $2500, so for a 1000 print run, they will need approximately $2.5 million. That is a lot of money to acquire from a word-of-mouth campaign, but I have faith that if anyone can do it, it is him. He just gets social media!
Maybe this blog can help him.
To purchase tickets to the early screenings of Red State visit- http://www.coopersdell.com
Red State Trailer-