It’s hard to self promote. At least, I find it to be. My own modesty notwithstanding, I rarely have the fortitude to continue the battle for hearts and minds once I’ve placed my finished sword on the table. As with any creation, without promotion of some kind, it will die a quick death. Infant Death Syndrome, so to speak (but please, take that metaphor only so far).
With Red State, as with most of my other work, I have pondered on how I might go about promoting it, getting the word out about it. It’s not an easy task. Sure, I have the internets, but how to use it (them?) properly and effectively to market what I’ve made? Perhaps more importantly, how do I market myself? That’s really what this is about, not to put too fine a point on it.
I’m feeling my way along an unknown path. I suppose I just have to wing it.
My experience showing Red State to an unbiased audience was rewarding and interesting, though not without its disappointments. The Firehouse Theatre is set in an old section of Richmond, Virginia, and, as the name implies, was once a firehouse. Now used mostly for theatrical productions, the theatre allows Project Resolution the use of the facility for one night every month to show fifteen short films by local and (in my case) not-so-local filmmakers.
I love my family and my friends, but it is hard to gauge the reactions they have to your work–they’re put in a difficult position of wanting to be constructive, but also wanting to like the work. This is why I appreciate an audience who doesn’t know you. The more likely they are to be totally honest and upfront about what you’ve created–what works, what doesn’t, and the overall feel of the presentation.
Without betraying my disappointment too much, I will say that the loss of 90% of the audience before the showing of Red State (it was the last film of the evening, and rather late) was somewhat disheartening. On the flip side, it was the hardcore film geeks that stayed behind, and I suppose I can count it a blessing that I was spared proletarian questions after the showing.
Red State, I was happy to note, garnered a few laughs in the right places, which I was most concerned about. Humour is tough to make work right, and I had laced the movie with enough subtle humour that I didn’t expect everyone to get everything. But the humour seemed to work, and I was glad that the audience caught some of the references I was shooting for.
After the showing I got to go up for about fifteen minutes and field questions from the audience. The first comment I received was a complaint about the gratuitousness of the initial car sequence, which runs a little over a minute long. I acknowledged that perhaps it could be cut down a bit, but that it was partially due to the jokes that play over the radio, and partially to show off my brother James’ car that the scene runs as long as it does. There was a complaint about there not being enough zombies in the film. True. But when I explained that it was a very guerilla shoot and we didn’t have the time to do everything we would have liked to do, it spawned a question about how long it took to shoot.
“Two days,” I replied. This seemed to impress everyone enough that the rest of the questions and comments were highly supportive, including one viewer who felt that my career in visual effects should be a no-brainer, if I hadn’t thought of it before.
Overall, I am grateful that it turned out as well as it has. I am pursuing some visual effects/editing work as a result of this film, and have hope that it’s simply the beginning of something great.